Yukon News

WildWise project urges tourists against feeding bears

Lori Garrison Monday June 5, 2017

Jesse Winter/Yukon News


A grizzly bear feeds by the side of the South Klondike Highway near Carcross. WildWise Yukon released a report May 31 which contained information on how to prevent run-ins with bears

A new report from a Yukon group devoted to reducing conflicts between wildlife and people offers suggestions on how to prevent run-ins with bears.

The recommendations are part of WildWise Yukon’s 2017 annual progress report issued May 31.

“It’s a short read, but a worthwhile read,” Heather Ashthorn, executive director for WildWise said.

One of the biggest upcoming initiatives, Ashthorn said, is WildWise’s Skagway Road education project, which seeks to educate tourists about bears and safe and ethical bear viewing.

WildWise will put up signs along the road and the distribution of information pamphlets. Wildwise will also have people on the highway stopping at “places where we know tourists stop, where there are tour buses” to talk to them about bear safety and not feeding bears said Ashthorn.

The program was developed after concerns were raised about bears being food-conditioned in the area.

“This is our first project aimed at people who don’t live here,” she said. “We don’t know exactly where the problem is, but we are confident bears are being fed in that area.”

Feeding bears is extremely dangerous for both the animals and people, she said, something tourists — who often come from areas where bears do not live in direct proximity to people — might not know.

“Tourists just don’t know,” she said. “If I were a tourist, I’d want to see a bear too.”

It is also thought that some tour operators may be feeding bears in order to induce viewing opportunities, Ashthorn said.

“There’s a lot of tour operators and you’re going to get a few bad eggs, but there are lots of ethical operators,” she said.

The document offers a summary of the the organization’s most recent initiatives, including their trail sign project, electric fencing education and the development of bear teaching materials for public school students.

“Food conditioning is an ongoing problem,” Ashthorn said.

Food conditioned bears often lose their fear of people and are killed for safety reasons.

“Every time a bear is destroyed or seriously damages property, it’s a big event, it’s a big deal,” she said.

The complete WildWise Yukon report is available online at wildwise.ca.

Contact Lori Garrison at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


It's not fair wrote:
6:49pm Monday June 19, 2017

The ignorant intolerance must stop persecuting these Lost Bears Questing Garbage Treats left by foolish humans who don’t understand the harm it causes.  We should paint a sidewalk for them and then people will be more understanding.  Isn’t that right Mayor Dan?

Alan wrote:
7:35pm Sunday June 11, 2017

Charles Darwin’s survival of the fittest suggests the bear will always win over a tourist. That’s good enough for me.

jean wrote:
6:12pm Friday June 9, 2017

Make it very clear with road signs that it’s illegal to feed wildlife.  Include the TIPS number on the sign and include information that a reward is available for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone feeding wildlife.

This approach is the only thing stupid people understand.

Carbon neutral wrote:
1:59pm Thursday June 8, 2017

I’m a bit skeptical about whether people are feeding bears, at least in such numbers to warrant the focus of this group. It seems like pretty retro behaviour that has been discouraged for a long time. But if it will help…I agree with Greg, though, this organization doesn’t seem as vocal about chickens and other farm animals as they could be, and the conflict is already well-documented. Considering the alacrity with which they hoofed it down suburban streets and knocked on rural doors, investigating yards and putting locks on bins.

Atom wrote:
8:34pm Wednesday June 7, 2017

To Paul…..that fox is a wild animal and if he had the chance his instinct would be to eat your soft parts, which you sound ripe with…..those bears should be deterred from passing through your neighbourhood, because they would eat you too…..even if you knew they were around, and gave them space.
Stop yellin at folks and yell at few wild critters city boy!

Paul wrote:
9:33am Wednesday June 7, 2017

Good article.  I had an incident behind my home last night.  A couple were out for a walk in the McIntyre bush with their unleashed dogs.  Our local fox was relaxing (pic hopfully posted) and their out of control dogs took after him.  The fox has been a neighbour for a couple of years and does a great job of rodent control and is a welcome presence.
  He is habituated (doesn’t mind people) but doesn’t approach us.  I have never fed him but he will sit down and take a rest below my balcony and likes to be chatted to.
  The Mc trail is for everyone but unleashed dogs are a problem.  Dog owners, please, if you want to take a walk with your dog(s), please control them (ie leash) or don’t come here.
  I walk there and see dog crap on the trail.
  Clean up your messes, leash your dogs or go somewhere else please.
  There was a black bear wandering through last summer and a family was going for a walk.  I told them that there was a bear down there and they cheerfully replied that “we have bear spray”.
I suppose that they thought that I was happy that they were ‘safe’ but they didn’t understand that the bear was just passing through and wouldn’t be a problem if they’d just go somewhere else.
  In Whitehorse, we are blessed with many nature trails.  I use them often and am happy to meet people, say hi, look for bird pics etc.  the people I meet are friendly and out for the same thing as am I.
My point?...if you are out for a walk with your dog, please have that dog under control with a leash.  If there is a bear warning, go somewhere else.
  I’m upset that those people and their limited world view might have caused injury to a lovely animal.
  I’m sorry that I yelled at you (but not very sorry)  but you and your dogs were badly behaved.  We need to share our trails, not feel we are looking out for our own interests.
  I really hope that your dogs didn’t hurt our fox.  He is useful and welcome to us.  Your dogs are not.
  Please behave yourselves,


Suggestion wrote:
12:20pm Tuesday June 6, 2017

If we feed one tourist to the bears, they might finally catch on.  it’s just an idea.

Greg wrote:
10:55pm Monday June 5, 2017

Really? Why not place your efforts to combat back yard farmers who bait bears with chickens and goats and then shoot them. Its sickening.

Groucho d'North wrote:
6:01pm Monday June 5, 2017

I believe you could install giant billboards up and down both sides of the highways telling viewers to not stop and approach or feed the wildlife -  they are still going to do it. “Those signs are for the stupid people who don’t know any better-  not me.” they will say.
I have rolled down the window and yelled at idiots trying to get that close-up picture of the grizzly cubs in the ditch on the way to Dezadeash. Clearly they do not know how fast a momma bear can move or they would not be THAT close.

They wave me off, and one guy even chastised me because I might scare the bears away and ruin the shot he wanted. Screw em,  some human carnage in the media may be what it takes to get people to smarten up. I hope the bear will not pay the price because of some idiot putting themselves at preventable risk. When these clowns post their risky pictures on Facebook, authorities and organisations like Wildwise have a teaching opportunity, I encourage them to use it.

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