Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file A grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. A grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)

Yukoners should be prepared for bear encounters any time of year, officials say

Bear encounters in the Yukon have been recorded as late as January.

Yukoners should be prepared for bear encounters when in the wilderness regardless of the time of year, an official with Environment Yukon said.

Environment Yukon’s director of conservation officer services Gordon Hitchcock gave the reminder at a press conference March 27, which coincided with the release of a coroner’s report into the deaths of a Whitehorse teacher, Valérie Théorêt, 37, and her daughter, 10-month-old Adèle Roesholt.

Théorêt and Adèle were killed by a grizzly bear near their remote trapper’s cabin on Einarson Lake, about 200 kilometres northeast of Mayo, in November 2018.

Officials later determined that the attack was predatory, and that there was little that could have been done to prevent it.

Although many Yukoners stop carrying bear spray or taking other bear-safety measures once snow falls, Hitchcock said that bear encounters in the Yukon have been recorded as late as January.

While bears typically hibernate from late fall to late spring, Hitchcock said there were a number of reasons why a particular animal might still be active well into the winter — it might, for example, have not eaten enough to build up a proper fat storage, or there might be a food source that’s worth the effort of waking up for.

Injured animals may also not follow typical hibernating patterns, he said.

The bear that attacked Théorêt and Adèle was found to be an 18-year-old male grizzly that had no body fat and would have not been able to survive hibernation. In an apparent desperate attempt to avoid starvation, the bear had eaten a porcupine — highly unusual prey for bears. As a result, it was likely in chronic and severe pain, with its face, paws and its digestive system, from its mouth to its stomach, lined with quills.

Bears do not typically view humans as prey, and will very rarely launch predatory attacks against them.

Yukoners who enter the bush, regardless of the time of year, are encouraged to carry bear spray. They’re also encouraged to take preventive measures like ensuring a clean camp and storing and securing attractants, whether at home or out in the wilderness.

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

Just Posted

A look inside Whitehorse’s operations building

A phased-in move is expected to begin in October

The wonderful world of worm compost

Worms kept in a bin under your sink can let you compost organic scraps year-round

Former board member worries Many Rivers could drown in debt

Skeeter Wright says the new board won’t be able to pay debts left by its predecessor

Record medal haul for Team Yukon at Western Canada Summer Games

Nine medals — three silver and six bronze — put the Yukon fourth in the medal standings

WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World

Sunny skies for 2019 Rick Janowicz Long Lake Triathlon

“It was sunny and breezy — perfect temperatures — and I think people enjoyed it”

Driving with Jens: What do milk and your child’s car seat have in common?

Things have changed since kids used to sprawl across the back window of the car

YCCMA Mosquito Harescramble includes record numbers for return of ladies class

“I think it’s a good indication it’s turning to a family sport versus what it has been in the past”

Yukonomist: Fun facts for your next violent barbecue debate about government jobs

Have you ever been at a barbecue where someone starts talking loudly… Continue reading

Yukon disc golfers compete in Trilogy Challenge

“We definitely are seeing a lot of new people starting into the sport”

History Hunter: New book celebrates Yukon’s most colourful hotel

If the walls could talk, what tales they would tell. But the… Continue reading

River Trail Marathon tests runners with heat and sun

“It was very hot in the second half, but the volunteers are amazing and there is water often”

Most Read