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Bear scare closes Yukon campground

Marsh Lake campground and recreation site are closed due to bear activity
Roly Poly the bear is seen sedated prior to relocation. (Yukon Conservation Officer Services/Facebook)

Bear activity has temporarily shut down a campground and recreation site run by the Yukon government.

The Marsh Lake campground and recreation site in the Southern Lakes region is closed to the public due to bears. Lake Creek campground in the Kluane region has reopened after a bear-related closure.

Bears entering campgrounds is not uncommon and the frequency of bear sightings is not considered unusual for this time of year, Environment department communications analyst Linea Volkering said by email on May 30. Officers are responding to reports of concerning bear behaviour as necessary.

The Marsh Lake area closures were prompted by a complaint about a grizzly bear trying to access a hard-sided trailer on May 28.

“The bear accessed an unattended cooler outside of the trailer. The bear was rewarded with a full beefsteak, a pack of sausages and some other food items, and continued to seek out easily accessible attractants for the next few hours,” Volkering said.

“During the bear’s time at the campground, it displayed behaviours consistent with signs of food conditioning and a lack of fear of humans.”

Conservation and park officers responded by closing the area, given the public safety concerns, and traps were set up, Volkering said.

A cinnamon-coloured black bear displaying unusual and aggressive behaviour within the Lake Creek campground prompted that closure. The bear was captured and killed by conservation officers.

“Unsecured attractants are not believed to have influenced this bear’s behaviour,” Volkering said.

People are being asked to stay out of affected campground and recreation areas where signage and gate closures are in place.

“When camping or enjoying the outdoors, keep attractants such as food, garbage and toiletries safely secured in hard-sided vehicles and trailers or bear-proof canisters,” Volkering said.

In a Facebook post on May 26, Yukon Conservation Officer Services drew attention to the fate of an adult male black bear nicknamed Roly Poly to demonstrate the importance of managing attractants.

Per the post, when the bear woke up from hibernation and sought out high-energy food sources, he was rewarded by discovering bird seed from a property owner’s feeder in the yard.

The post states conservation officers got a call about the bear. Neighbourhood locals were concerned about his behaviour and frequency in the area as he was showing a tolerance and lack of fear towards humans, residential areas and their adjacent green spaces.

Officers trapped the bear and relocated it, according to the post. He was fitted with identification tag 118 and moved about 100 kilometres away from the original trap site.

A week later, the same bear was reported to officers within a few kilometres of the original trap site. He was displaying the same behaviours and food conditioning as seen in the original complaint. The next day, the bear was killed on the deck of a home after repeated attempts to persuade the bear away from the property, with the property owner fearing for their safety.

“We tell this story to give an example of why attractant management is so important in reducing conflicts and saving bears’ lives. Relocating bears is a conflict tool, not a solution to the problem,” reads the post.

“We all want to save bears’ lives. We do not want to repeat this preventable scenario each season. As demonstrated in this example, once a bear is rewarded and their behaviours change, finding a positive outcome is difficult.”

Contact Dana Hatherly at

Dana Hatherly

About the Author: Dana Hatherly

I’m the legislative reporter for the Yukon News.
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