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Bear sightings across Yukon prompt calls for caution

Reports of bruins coming in from Whistlebend, Porter Creek, Riverdale and Takhini in Whitehorse
A black bear is seen at F.H. Collins Secondary School in Riverdale on Aug. 14. Michel Emery said he’s been working at the school since 2016 and this was the first time he’s seen a bear at the school. (Courtesy/Michel Emery)

After a number of recent reports of bears in Whitehorse neighbourhoods, Yukon conservation officers say bear activity is common this time of the year.

Whistlebend, Porter Creek, Riverdale and Takhini were some of the top spots in Whitehorse where bear activity is very high.

Hunter education and outreach officer Jim Welsh said the past week has been quite busy for bear activity. This is related to the hot, dry weather with food sources like berries not fully ripened yet.

“As a result of this the bears are coming into town looking for food and we have really seen a lot of bears, particularly targeting berry bushes and people’s yards,” he told the News.

A black bear was recently seen at F.H. Collins Secondary School in Riverdale. Welsh said Riverdale has a healthy population of bears and many people living there see them quite frequently.

Welsh said people should be careful about managing attractants in their yards.

“We would really like to encourage people to take the time this week and really go out and pick the berries off of their trees to help take away those attractants,” he said. “If someone encounters a bear, we encourage them to keep a safe distance as possible, stay in their cars, speak to it and identify themselves as human and as soon as safely as possible.”

He noted a tip line can be called at 1-800-661-0525 for reports of bear activity or sightings. Conservation officers are currently responding to neighbourhoods with multiple reports of black bears.

“When we receive calls, conservation officers will respond to that site. Our goal being to protect the bear, ideally hazing it out of the area and, if required, relocating it, if possible,” he said.

Parks Canada put out an Aug. 11 notice on Facebook and Twitter about restricted activity for the Cottonwood and King’s Throne trails in Kluane National Park and Reserve due to bear activity. The closure that was previously in place has, however, since been lifted.

The notice said hiking parties must be in a group size of four adults or more and the maximum distance between two individuals must not exceed three metres. It should be less when sight or hearing is reduced by the physical surroundings, the notice had stated.

It also highlighted a recommendation that hikers carry bear spray and know how to use it.

“We also encourage hikers to consider leaving dogs at home to avoid possible wildlife conflict,” reads the Facebook post.

Welsh said bear spray remains the most effective deterrent for dangerous bears, pointing out it’s non-lethal and safe to use when used properly.

“Anyone hiking anywhere around the Yukon, it’s important you take some kind of bear safety training before so that you are prepared for any bear encounter,” he said, adding that bears don’t like to be around humans and one of the steps to keeping them away is for the group to stay close together so that they look like a pack.

“We have provided a lot of resources on our website and even on our YouTube channel [there is] a bear safety course that anyone can watch that has basic tips for bear safety and what to do for bear encounters, ” Welsh said.

Contact Patrick Egwu at

Patrick Egwu

About the Author: Patrick Egwu

I’m one of the newest additions at Yukon News where I have been writing about a range of issues — politics, sports, health, environment and other developments in the territory.
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