A bear buffet

Hungry black bears kept conservation officers busy over the weekend in Whitehorse. “In July it’s common to get calls about bears,” said senior conservation officer Kris Gustafson.

Hungry black bears kept conservation officers busy over the weekend in Whitehorse.

“In July it’s common to get calls about bears,” said senior conservation officer Kris Gustafson. “But this weekend was a lot – more than normal, for sure.”

Gustafson and his staff received “dozens” of calls, with sightings in Riverdale, Porter Creek, Crestview, McPherson, Wolf Creek and elsewhere.

And the bears weren’t staying on the greenbelt outskirts. In Porter Creek, emboldened bruins ventured down interior roads such as Tamarack Drive and Eleventh Avenue.

In almost all cases, the bears were after the same thing: garbage that had grown stinky under the hot sun.

Now is a thin time for bears to find food in the bush, said Gustafson. There aren’t many tasty roots left over from the spring, and there isn’t a berry crop yet.

“There will be in a few weeks,” said Gustafson. “There are lots of soapberries in town.”

Conservation officers trapped and released two bears over the weekend. They also shot one with a rubber bullet.

Over the past two weeks, eight bears have been trapped near town, said Gustafson. Half were caught near a restaurant near Robert Service Way.

Residents are reminded to do what they can to keep the smell down from garbage and compost.

It’s recommended that bins be put out the morning of collection, rather than the night before.

If you don’t have garbage collection, it’s advised that you remove your rubbish at least once a week and keep a tight-fitting lid on trash.

Dirty barbecues can attract bears. It’s best to burn off any grease after a cook-up.

Dog food is best kept indoors, unless you want it to become bear food.

Bears can smell 2,000 times better than we do. So, if your compost pile is beginning to smell ripe, “imagine how it smells to a bear,” said Gustafson.

And be especially careful if you keep garbage cans near your front entrance. On Friday, Gustafson saw one bear pigging out on garbage, not far from a Porter Creek home’s front door.

Some well-intentioned residents asked Gustafson to put up signs in areas where bears are present. “But it’d be easier to put up a sign where there wasn’t a bear,” he said.

“If you’re not downtown, you may see a bear.”

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.

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