wildlife management techniques need revision

Last week, a geologist got too close to a sow grizzly and her two cubs. While flagging a claim near Ross River, Jean-Francois Page wandered within…

Last week, a geologist got too close to a sow grizzly and her two cubs.

While flagging a claim near Ross River, Jean-Francois Page wandered within five metres of the sow’s den.

The 25-year-old grizzly had two months-old cubs nearby. And mother bears are fiercely protective of their cubs.

The sow bear killed Page instantly.

There was nothing unusual about her behaviour, said Environment spokesman Dennis Senger.

So, we wonder, why were the mother and her two cubs killed by police?

The Yukon remains one of the wildest places in North America.

Relatively healthy populations of grizzly and black bears, wolves, lynx, wolverine, marten, foxes, moose, caribou, bison and other critters remain within its borders.

Walk in the woods and you don’t know what you’ll find.

Build in the woods — as Whitehorse has — and you’re putting people smack dab in animal habitat.

Conflicts will happen.

Should it result in a death sentence for animals that are merely being, well, animals?

It is an important question.

In the Yukon, people are pushing deeper into bear and wolf country. Expansion of industry and municipalities will only exacerbate the problem of human-animal conflicts.

Last fall, a wolf pack was killed off in the vicinity of the, er, Wolf Creek subdivision.

The wolves had been attacking neighbourhood dogs, many of which had been allowed to roam free.

So who’s at fault?

The wolves were killed because dog owners failed to safeguard their pets in a wild land.

This is unacceptable.

Same with the bears that crossed paths with Page.

Everybody knows that if you wander too close to a bear den, knowingly or not, bad things are bound to happen.

The bears should not have been killed.

But in the Yukon, the policy is to kill the offending wildlife, whatever the circumstances surrounding the death.

It is an arcane approach, one that places little value on the territory’s wildlife.

Yukon residents have to learn to respect the territory’s environment, and its denizens.

And wildlife officials must adopt a more nuanced approach to predator control, especially as the human population grows and habitat and wildlife populations dwindle. (RM)