Berries draw bears within city limits

Soapberries ripening along the clay cliffs are believed to be attracting grizzly and black bears deeper into Whitehorse city limits, according to…

Soapberries ripening along the clay cliffs are believed to be attracting grizzly and black bears deeper into Whitehorse city limits, according to Yukon conservation officers.

“These reddish-orange berries are what’s been attracting the bears to the area,” said conservation officer Tony Grabowski.

“They’re feeding on rich natural food sources. They’re doing what bears do.”

The latest sighting was on the cliffs off Main Street. Conservation officers did not find the bear.

Most sightings occur in the early morning or early evening, said Grabowski. Bears will be wandering around until mid- or late-October, when they go back into hibernation.

Bears have been seen this summer roaming the cliffs near the stairs at the end of Black Street and places between Cook and Hawkins streets, and near the Robert Service Campground.

A bear was also spotted loping across Range Road near the young offenders’ facility.

People could be coming across the same bear, accounting for the numerous sightings — which are about average compared to past years — or there could be two or three bears in the area, said Grabowski.

Some people have reported spotting grizzlies, but the bears are most likely black bears of varying colours, he added.

Conservation officers have posted yellow warning signs at the main access points of the cliffs.

“We shouldn’t become hysterical about the sightings, but be aware and take precautions,” said Grabowski.

Conservation officers have noticed a change in the behaviour of bears spotted around the city.

Residents are mainly seeing the bears in wooded areas, away from the residential areas, which are attractive for the easily accessible trash cans, said Grabowski.

“We have a bear population conducting their business like wild bears should,” he added.

The bears seem to lack any food conditioning, which could be a result of the electrical exclusion fence erected around the Whitehorse landfill.

No longer weaned on human food, bears are keeping to the forest for nutrition, hence their soapberry search.

Even though area bears are not rummaging through garbage, residents are asked to remain vigilant about regular removal of trash from their homes.

“People need to realize this is bear country,” said Grabowski. “We have about 10,000 black bears and another 6,000 grizzlies. When they’re out of their dens, people have to be aware of their presence and ask themselves, ‘How will I react to a bear encounter?”

Conservation officers are responding to bear sightings and have set up culvert traps along the cliffs but have yet to snag a bear.

A bear would have to be in a tree to be darted. If a bear isn’t static when shot, it could use the tranquilizer’s five-minute reaction time to run, leaving officers less time to move the bear to another location.

Officers have darted two bears this year, one in Riverdale and another in the Marwell area.

If you encounter either a grizzly or black bear, it is recommend you try and determine its intent before reacting.

If a bear appears to be acting defensively, Grabowski said to lie on your stomach, cover your head and spread your legs to prevent the animal from rolling you over and exposing your vitals.

“(But) if the bear is attacking, then you have to fight with might,” said Grabowski.

Hikers and joggers should be carrying some sort of bear deterrent with them, such as bear spray or noise makers.

“Get into the habit of taking something with you,” said Grabowski. “More often than not, a bear will take off in the opposite direction — but just in case.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Premier Sandy Silver speaks to media after delivering the budget in the legislature in Whitehorse on March 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Territorial budget predicts deficit of $12.7 million, reduced pandemic spending in 2021-2022

If recovery goes well, the territory could end up with a very small surplus.

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Most Read