A barrel of unknown substance burns as empty containers lay scattered amongst auto wreckage in the MacRae East industrial park on July 12, 2018. At that time, conservation officers had killed three bears due to the poor storage of the waste. Now, Joszef Suska of Whitehorse and Michele Palma of Dawson City, are facing a slew of charges under the Wildlife Act, Special Waste Regulations and Environment Act. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Two men charged in 2018 incident that saw bears attracted to cooking grease in MacRae

Conservation officers killed three bears that had become habituated to eating improperly stored grease

Two Yukon men and their companies are facing charges after an incident last summer that saw conservation officers kill three bears in Whitehorse’s MacRae subdivision that had become habituated to eating kitchen grease.

Yukon chief conservation officer Gord Hitchcock told media at a bear safety event on May 7 that conservation officers received calls about a property in MacRae in July 2018, with reports that there were “large quantities of used cooking grease” being improperly stored there.

Officers following up on the reports saw bears “accessing and feeding” on the grease, Hitchcock said, and a higher number of bear sightings in the area was attributed to the unsecured attractant.

Hitchcock said conservation officers had to turn to legislative tools after spending the summer “attempting to achieve compliance and safety,” including the issuing of a dangerous wildlife protection order.

The News reported in July 2018 that conservation officers had killed three bears at a site in MacRae that had become attracted to large burning barrels of grease at an automobile junkyard, and spent two days at the site dealing with the situation.

Joszef Suska and 535802 Yukon Inc., of Whitehorse, and Michele Palma and Dawson Group of Companies Ltd., of Dawson City, are facing a slew of charges under the Wildlife Act, Special Waste Regulations and the Environment Act.

According to court documents, Suska and 535802 Yukon Inc. — which operates as Budget Towing & Auto Services — are alleged to have released “special waste” and handled it without a management plan or permit, violations of the Special Waste Regulations, at a lot in the MacRae subdivision between July 20, 2017 and Aug. 1, 2018.

Both are also alleged to have failed to mitigate a spill, contrary to the Environment Act, within that same timeframe, and, between July 5 and Sept. 6, 2018, are alleged to have encouraged a grizzly and black bear to become nuisances in violation of the Wildlife Act.

As well, Suska is facing an additional charge under the Wildlife Act for allegedly having made a “false or misleading statement to a conservation officer.”

Palma and the Dawson Group of Companies Ltd. are facing two charges each under the Wildlife Act — failing to comply with a dangerous wildlife protection order on both July 17 and Aug. 22, 2018.

All four made their first court appearance in Whitehorse on May 7.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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