Burglarizing bear shot dead

A black bear caught burglarizing a cabin in Squatters’ Row was shot and killed by conservation officers Thursday afternoon. The bruin was discovered by the cabin’s owner, who asked not to be identified.

A black bear caught burglarizing a cabin in Squatters’ Row was shot and killed by conservation officers Thursday afternoon.

The bruin was discovered by the cabin’s owner, who asked not to be identified.

“I’d just come back from town,” she said. “I have to walk about 100 feet from my vehicle to my cabin, and when I was about halfway there I heard a bunch of noise.”

She suspected it was a bear. There had been one on the property only a few days before.

She returned to the car and honked the horn, then walked back to the cabin and set off an air horn three times, all to no effect.

“I was worried that whatever it was, was trapped,” she said.

At a loss, she telephoned for help, but by the time conservation officers showed up the bear had fled. 

He had broken her window and ransacked a cooler in the kitchen.

A tupperware full of spices had been chucked out the window, along with a package of strawberries and feta cheese.

While the conservation officers looked for tracks and talked to the neighbours, the resident started to clean up.

“I really didn’t think I had to worry,” she said. “I thought after all this commotion, he’s not going to be back.”

She cleaned up the food outside, then started on the kitchen.

“I was bent over cleaning up this floor, and I thought maybe I should fix the window first,” she said. “I stood up and looked out the window and he was right there, he was 10 feet away from the window.”

It wasn’t the same bear she had seen earlier in the week. This one was bigger, she said.

“It couldn’t believe it, it couldn’t have been more than 20 minutes after the COs had been here,” she said. “I really didn’t expect that.”

She blew the air horn but “it didn’t even phase him.

“He looked up for a minute and he went back to looking for the strawberries that weren’t there,” she said.

She called the conservation officers back. They arrived in a hurry, and the bear fled once again.

But he didn’t run far.

The conservation officer told her he circled around but wouldn’t leave. The officer ended up having to put the bear down.

“It was very aggressive,” said Nancy Campbell, a spokesperson for the Department of the Environment. “And unfortunately that’s what happens when they’re close to people.” 

This is the eighth bear that conservation officers have shot in Whitehorse this year. That’s double the number killed by conservation officers in all of last year.

Originally conservation officers thought that the bear that broke into the house in Squatters’ Row was the same bear that has been recently seen wandering around Copper Ridge, said Campbell. But they turned out to be different bears.

The Copper Ridge bear is still at large.

“Traps are set,” said Campbell. “No words yet on if we’ve managed to capture him or not.” 

This time of year is always a busy time for bear activity, she said.

“July is usually the toughest month for bears, because they’re really hungry,” said Campbell. “Their overwinter food supply has run out and they’re waiting for the new berries.”

Because of that, it’s especially important that people keep their garbage and compost locked up and out of bears’ reach, she said.

“When bears become habituated to people as a result of getting food, that’s when he end is nigh for a bear,” she said. “A fed bear is a dead bear.”

The owner of the cabin on Squatters Row is at a loss for what attracted the bear to he cabin. There was no garbage left out and little food in the house, she said.

“I was low on groceries I was actually bringing some home,” she said. “It seemed like he went straight for the window.”

“I feel really bad. I never wanted to see that at my place.”

While a little shaken by the experience, she doesn’t want her story to fuel hysteria about bears.

“I’m not casual about bears at all, but I haven’t seen one like that,” she said.

In the meantime, the resident has already put up a storm window. And she’s considering getting a dog to replace the air horn.

“I don’t think I’ll have another summer here without a dog,” she said. 

Contact Josh Kerr at joshk@yukon-news.com

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