RCMP Officers search for a black bear along the Whitehorse waterfront Sept. 26. (Jesse Winter/ Yukon News)

Yukon’s bear bodycount sets grim record

62 bears died as a result of contact with humans, Environment Yukon says

Yukon has officially broken a grim record with 62 bears killed in conflicts with humans this year. That breaks the previous record of 61 animals killed in human-bear conflicts set in 2012, Environment Yukon says.

The figure stood at 62 as of Sept. 28, although the department cannot confirm that number until the season ends, likely in November, said Environment Yukon spokesperson Roxanne Stasyszyn.

The department needs staff out in the field to handle human-animal interactions and hunting season, not behind a computer crunching numbers, she said.

“I can confirm that the number has collectively exceeded the previous record,” she said. “We have more (bears killed) than what we have on record for previous seasons.”

It has been an extremely busy season for conservation officers, who have been stretched thin trying to deal with the ongoing problems between bears and humans.

“Last year’s bear season was minimal,” Stasyszyn said. “Nothing like what we’ve seen this year.”

A bear was seen in town along the Yukon River Sept. 26, prompting police armed with rifles to search for what they believed to be a potentially dangerous animal. Conservation officers were able to shoo the animal back into the forest without harming it.

Stasyszyn said it is possible the number of bears killed in these conflicts will continue to rise, as it “is not uncommon to see bear activity into November.”

Contact Lori Fox at lori.fox@yukon-news.com