The Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site has been closed after a black bear broke into a Parks Canada cabin at Lindeman City.
A response team made up of Parks Canada staff and Yukon conservation officers was sent to the Canadian side of the trail Monday evening to locate the bear. They continued the search yesterday and today.
“If the bear continues to show behaviour that puts public safety at risk, and if we can positively identify that it is the bear that we’re dealing with, then we will attempt to destroy it,” said Jeni Rudisill, acting site superintendent for the Chilkoot.
Twenty hikers were evacuated to Bennett on Monday evening, some by boat from Lindeman City, and others by helicopter from Bare Loon Lake.
The bear broke into the patrol cabin through a window on Monday. Staff returned at 3:30 p.m. to find a damaged refrigerator and cupboards. According to a Parks Canada news release, the bear obtained “a significant food reward.”
It re-entered the cabin at 6:45 p.m. that evening. After that, hikers were evacuated.
For now, the trail is closed on the Canadian side from the Chilkoot Pass to Bennett. The Bennett area remains open for day use.
Rudisill said she’s aware there have been issues with food-conditioned and habituated bears along the South Klondike Highway in the last few weeks.
The highway doesn’t fall within the national historic site, but it runs parallel to it, more than 10 kilometres away.
“That’s within the natural travel distance of a bear,” said Rudisill. It’s possible this bear was food-conditioned along the highway.
Prior to this no unusual bear activity had been reported on the Chilkoot Trail this year. For as long as Parks Canada has operated the site – some 40 years – there have been no bear attacks, Rudisill said.
For updates, visit pc.gc.ca/chilkoot, or call the Parks Canada office in Whitehorse at 667-3910 or the Trail Center in Skagway at 907-983-9234.