The Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board has proposed that roadside spring grizzly hunting be banned on Southern Lakes highways and on the Haines Road.
The heart of the issue is potential conflict between wildlife viewing and bear hunting.
Last spring a blond grizzly was legally shot off on the Tagish Road.
The killing sparked an outcry among some residents who had become fond of the bear, which had lived in the area for years.
The incident later prompted some Yukoners to deliver a petition to the Yukon Legislative Assembly calling for an end to bear hunting within a kilometre of Yukon roads.
But the issue had been simmering for years before that.
An earlier petition on the subject was delivered in 2003.
Concerns specific to the Atlin Road grew and in 2010 then-environment minister John Edzerza asked the management board to look into a no-hunting corridor on that stretch of road.
The board has twice recommended against that proposal.
But given the specific interest in protecting bears from being shot within the potential view of photographers and tourists, the management board took up the question again last year.
Consultations with Yukoners took place in the spring of this year.
“The review found that public opinion was divided, ranging from keeping the status quo to eliminating all roadside bear hunting in the territory,” according to the board. “Though it was recognized that this review was not
intended to address grizzly bear conservation, more concerns on the practice of roadside hunting of grizzly bears were raised in this review than for any other species, including black bears.”
The board has proposed that no grizzly bear be taken during the spring hunt within 30 metres of the centre line of Tagish Road, the Atlin Road, the South Klondike Road, and the Alaska Highway from Jake’s Corner to the
Slims River Bridge, just north of Haines Junction.
“This proposed amendment to the regulations should go some way towards addressing the conflicts between wildlife viewing and wildlife harvesting that has been in the public eye for the past decade,” according to the board.
It would restrict the grizzly bear spring hunt, the most likely period of conflict, when animals are attracted to the flush of green vegetation growing along the highway corridors. This proposal would not affect fall grizzly bear hunting nor black bear hunting in either spring or fall.
The management board will accept comments on the proposal until Nov. 28 at 4 p.m.
At that point it will be up to the environment minister to decide whether or not to bring the proposal forward for final approval by cabinet.
The changes will likely come into effect for the 2016 spring grizzly hunt, if they are approved, according to the board.
Detailed information and an online survey are available at yfwmb.ca.
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at firstname.lastname@example.org