A busy weekend for bears

A young black bear continues to roam around the Yukon Arts Centre and Yukon College. It has been spotted many times in the area over the past few weeks.

Conservation officers were busy over the weekend dealing with several bear-related incidents.

A young black bear continues to roam around the Yukon Arts Centre and Yukon College. It has been spotted many times in the area over the past few weeks.

Now conservation officers have set up two live traps in the area in hopes of catching the bear so it can be relocated.

“The unfortunate part of him being in that area for so long is that he’s become very accustomed to the area and he’s displaying behaviour which is not normal for a wild animal – basically his tolerance for the public at very close quarters,” said conservation officer Randy Fraser on Monday morning.

The bear is comfortable with people coming within 10 or 15 feet of it, said Fraser.

And some members of the public are not helping the situation, he said.

“I noticed yesterday some people were actually undermining our efforts of making the bear stay away from people by coaxing the bear so they can get closer to get photographs.”

That is not responsible behaviour, he said.

Members of the public are encouraged to make noise and try to make the bear less comfortable around humans, not more comfortable, said Fraser.

“Even though this is a young bear and he looks like kind of a cute cuddly thing, it is wildlife and it should remain that way.”

Hikers in the area should always carry bear spray, he said.

Bear sightings on campus can be reported to Yukon College security at 334-6042, or to the TIPP line at 1-800-661-0525.

Also over the weekend, a grizzly bear previously shot by a rifle when it came onto someone’s Lake Laberge property may have been spotted.

Conservation officers got a call Friday morning that a grizzly with a limp was hanging out in the Horse Creek area, said Fraser.

Officers set up a live trap and inspected the area, he said. They found that a bear had been digging for bear roots and foraging for food in the area, but did not find the bear.

There have been no reports of the bear since, said Fraser, and the trap was moved to Yukon College on Sunday.

“Right now the bear doesn’t appear to be in that area, and if he is he’s obviously behaving himself because we’ve had no negative reports of him.”

Fraser got a surprise on Saturday when he checked out a trap that had been set in the Judas Creek neighbourhood of Marsh Lake for a black bear that had been causing problems in the area.

Neighbours reported on Saturday morning that a bear had been caught, he said.

“To my surprise when I arrived it was actually not a black bear but a 340-pound male grizzly bear,” said Fraser.

“This bear had been doing nothing wrong, I guess he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

A carnivore biologist collared the grizzly and did some tests, and he was relocated on Sunday.

On Friday, conservation officers got a report of an animal carcass dumped in the Hidden Lakes area, said Fraser.

“Perhaps somebody had decided to butcher the moose on their own in their garage and instead of depositing or getting rid of the bones and the non-palatable meat, they deposited it in the bush.”

Whoever did it could face various charges under the Environment and Wildlife acts, including wasting meat, as some edible meat was left on the carcass.

“There’s lots of mushers out there, I’m sure they would be quite happy to take this off people’s hands and use it for dog food,” said Fraser.

Dumping carcasses in the bush, especially near hiking trails, can be very dangerous, he said.

“Bears, for example, that are looking to put on whatever weight they possible can, if they find something like that, they’re going to treasure it and they’re going to guard it so they can keep it. So if anybody comes near, unknowingly that there’s a wastage there or this meat is there, they could be confronted by a very dangerous situation.”

Conservation officers are looking for any information that could help them find the person responsible for dumping the carcass.

This is a busy time for bear encounters, said Fraser.

“It’s that time of the year when animals are trying to fatten up to prepare for the winter. They will look for whatever source of nutrients they can find.”

Fraser reminded the public to secure all food and garbage that could attract bears.

“They have a very good sense of smell. They’re going to find it and they’re going to eat it. And once they eat and are rewarded by getting into garbage and finding something good to eat, unfortunately it creates some very bad habits for the bear.”

More often than not, it’s the bear that ends up dead as a result, he said.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at jronson@yukon-news.com

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