A old, desperate grizzly bear in “very poor condition” broke into at least seven structures in Marsh Lake last week, some with people inside, before being shot dead after entering a cabin.
Yukon conservation officers responded to a call about a large grizzly bear breaking into an “occupied residence” on McClintock Valley Road the evening of Aug. 11, Yukon Conservation Officer Services said in a press release Aug. 18.
The person inside the residence was able to escape out the back door and called conservation officers and the RCMP, according to the press release, who were able to scare off the bear.
Conservation officers set up traps, snares and electric fencing in the area and did patrols, but the bear broke into six other structures including houses, cabins and campers along the road over the next few days.
A “member of the public” shot and killed the bear just before midnight on Aug. 15 after it broke into an occupied cabin.
In an interview, conservation officer David Bakica described the situation as “very unusual,” explaining that while it’s not unheard of (although uncommon) for bears to break into structures, particularly if they’ve learned that they can obtain food from inside, they typically don’t do so with people around.
“It’s rare that bears get to this stage, that they disregard the presence of people, and I think it just speaks to the fact that the bear was getting desperate as far as body condition and obviously it knew that it needed to put some weight on if it had any hope of surviving the winter,” he said.
No necropsy will take place, Bakica said, because the bear’s condition was obvious.
“This is when they should be in good to excellent condition, just getting into excellent condition, because this is when all of the berry crops are ripening and there’s a reasonable amount of berries out there, plus it’s had all summer to feed,” he explained.
“This bear was in very poor condition and for this time of year, there’s no way this bear would have survived the winter.”
Based on tooth wear, he said that it was also “highly likely” the bear was more than 30 years old.
According to the Yukon government’s website, a grizzly bear’s lifespan is typically 20 to 30 years.
While conservation officers didn’t check other cabins in the area and haven’t received any further reports about break-ins, Bakica said he “would not be surprised” if the bear had a history of entering buildings.
“It had old healed cuts on its front paws, on the pads, so it had likely been breaking into structures for some time,” he said. “Generally speaking, the only way to get those cuts on the pads of a bear is from glass.”
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org