A female worker was injured, but is safe, after being attacked by a grizzly bear on Wednesday.
The woman was working at an exploration camp east of Wolf Lake, near Swift River.
She was coming out of thick brush and entering an alpine area with her dog, said Ryan Hennings, a senior conservation officer with Environment Yukon who flew in to investigate the attack. The dog normally accompanies the worker when she’s working in the backcountry, said Hennings.
As they entered the area, the dog barked. The worker knew that meant there was a bear in the area. The bear was only 20 metres away. She was accompanied by two cubs.
The sow locked eyes with the worker and then “immediately charged,” said Hennings. The woman responded quickly. She began yelling and unclipping her backpack. She was about to drop to the ground and cover her head with the backpack, but the bear was too fast. It swatted the worker, knocking her to the ground and leaving her with three gashes on her left arm.
The bear then took off with the cubs.
“It really appears to be a surprise encounter,” said Hennings. The bear was protecting her cubs, and its actions were normal for an animal protecting its young, he said.
The woman needed stitches. There were no further injuries, said Hennings.
The bear does not pose any danger to the public, said Hennings. The dog was not injured, and it did not contribute to the attack, he said.
The name of the company the woman was working for is not being released at this time. Environment Yukon continues to investigate the incident.
The Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board is also investigating the incident. Investigations are mandatory when there is an injury at a job site, said board spokesperson Richard Mostyn.