Roadside grizzly hunt to continue, for now

The Yukon government will continue to allow the killing of grizzly bears on the side of territorial highways. But hunting restrictions could be coming.

The Yukon government will continue to allow the killing of grizzly bears on the side of territorial highways.

But hunting restrictions could be coming, as a Yukon-wide grizzly bear management plan is currently under development.

The Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board recommended in late 2014 that grizzly hunting be banned on roadsides on Southern Lakes highways and on the Haines Road.

But it has since changed its position, agreeing that a management plan should be in place before the rules are changed.

“The board is very pleased with the minister’s decision,” chair Bob Dickson said in a news release. “Although a legislated local area closure would have addressed part of the issue, there is clearly a need to consider all the feedback we received and establish an overarching management plan in advance of any piecemeal approach.”

Environment Yukon will head up the management plan work along with the board, with input from First Nations and renewable resource councils.

The Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board has been looking into the issue of roadside hunting for many years.

Then-environment minister John Edzerza asked the board in 2010 to look into a no-hunting corridor on the Atlin Road after there were several complaints of bears being shot in the area.

Tensions flared again in 2013 when a blonde grizzly was legally shot on the Tagish Road.

The board has twice in the past recommended a hunting ban on the Atlin Road, although the government never went ahead with the rule change.

Currently it’s legal to hunt bears along most Yukon roads, provided the gun is not shot from or across the road surface and the hunter is at least a kilometre from the nearest residence.

Last year the management board examined the issue again, asking if some restrictions might reduce the conflict between hunters and tourists.

On average, 83 grizzly bears are hunted in the territory each year. Of those, about 26 are taken by Yukon resident hunters.

Approximately one or two of those are taken from the side of the highway within the Southern Lakes region.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at jronson@yukon-news.com