Whitehorse district conservation officer David Bakica, left, talks to reporters about the last year’s human-bear conflicts and the number of bears killed in the Yukon at a press conference on Dec. 12. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Bear conflicts in the Yukon down significantly in 2019, Environment Yukon says

There were 163 human-bear conflicts reported in 2019, with 33 bears in total killed

Human-bear conflicts and the number of bears killed in the Yukon dropped dramatically during the 2019 season compared to the past two years, Environment Yukon officials revealed Dec. 12.

There were a total of 163 bear incidents this year compared to 267 last year and 206 in 2017, Whitehorse district conservation officer David Bakica told reporters at a press conference recapping the bear season.

Thirty-three bears were killed in 2019 (22 by conservation officers, 11 by members of the public) compared to 54 and 65 in 2018 and 2017, respectively. The number of translocations also declined significantly, with 12 bears this year compared to the 58 from a year ago (10 were translocated in 2017).

One of the major factors contributing to the drop, Bakica said, was a good berry crop this year.

“This year we had a warm spring, the growing season was quite warm, the summer was one of the nicer summers we’ve had in the last few for sure, so there were good berry crops, good natural forage for the bears, and it’s all about food as far as the bears are concerned,” he said.

“If there’s good food for the bears naturally occurring, they are much less likely to get into conflict with the attractants, with the things that people have.”

By contrast, 2018 saw poor weather and by extension, a poor berry crop, which resulted in bears moving from natural food sources to readily-available, human-made ones — backyard fruit trees, berry bushes and gardens, for example.

Bakica described the 2019 numbers as ones conservation officers would expect to see during “an average year,” while the high numbers in 2018 and 2017 were a “blip.” Years with a high number of conflicts are typically followed by a drop, he said, because there simply aren’t the same number of bears around to get into conflicts.

The last “average” year was in 2016.

Despite the low conflict numbers this year, Bakica said issues still exist — in particular, conservation officers have seen more grizzlies getting into chicken coops. One bear in particular, he said, got into seven coops over the summer.

Yukoners considering getting chickens or other livestock should install an electric fence around their enclosure before the animals even arrive, he said. Yukoners should also be installing electric fencing around compost heaps, for example, and cleaning up the spillage from winter bird feeders.

“I like to think we’re making headway,” Bakica said of getting Yukoners to properly manage bear attractants. “I am encouraged by seeing a lot of the things people are doing right. The flip side is, we have quite a number of new people moving into the territory, new people moving out into rural residential areas and thinking, ‘Oh, it’d be great to have chickens,’ and they don’t take the time to think about, ‘Okay, we should electrify it.’”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Yukon privacy commissioner says health department’s lack of cooperation “troubling”

Department of Health and Social Services ignored messages, didn’t implement recommendations, IPC says

Our first line of (frigid) defence

‘But really, to go over 100 megawatts for us was pretty epic’

Yukon Quest field down to just 15 after three withdrawals

Lori Tweddell and Louve Tweddell withdrew from the Quest after not completing qualification races

Driving with Jens: Both motorists and pedestrians have responsibilities when sharing the road

Roadways are a shared-use public resource. They are meant to be shared… Continue reading

Today’s mailbox: Biomass

Letters to the editor published Jan. 17

Black Aces golden after Alberta hockey tournament

The Peewee Development Program Black Aces went 4-0 in tournament play and 5-0 overall

City news, briefly

Some news from Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 13th meeting

Crash survivors burn vehicle to stay warm

Three occupants of a vehicle that went off the road between Carmacks… Continue reading

Twelve impaired drivers nabbed in nine days, RCMP says

‘It’s truly staggering to discover the number of people who are still getting behind the wheel while impaired’

Registration opens for 34th annual Buckwheat International Ski Classic

Registration for the 34th annual Buckwheat International Ski Classic opened on Jan.… Continue reading

Most Read