About a dozen bear sightings in Whitehorse have been reported to conservation officers in the past week.
Black bears have been spotted across the city, from Robert Service Campground to the Copperbelt Railway and Mining Museum on the Alaska Highway.
“We’ve had no reported incidents of human-bear conflicts but there have been lots of sightings,” Environment Yukon spokeswoman Melissa Madden said today.
“In part because the soapberries are out and they’re attracted to that.”
She confirmed the bears have just been foraging for natural food sources at this point.
“The fact that we haven’t had any incidents is a good sign that people are doing that,” Madden said.
“We appreciate the continued vigilance in managing attractants.”
Carmen Smith, the program co-ordinator at WildWise Yukon, said today that fortunately, she hasn’t seen any scattered garbage in areas where bears have recently been spotted, but also stressed the importance of keeping attractants secured.
“There are always lots of bears around this time of year, and hopefully the number seen this past week will help keep people vigilant when they are out recreating and encourage them to secure their garbage and other backyard attractants so we don’t end up with another conflict bear this summer,” Smith said.
“Even if you’ve never seen a bear in your yard, you still need to secure garbage and compost so they keep moving on. This is a good reminder that everywhere in the city of Whitehorse is bear country.”
WildWise circulated an alert online about a black bear spotted Thursday near the clay cliffs on Hawkins Street in downtown Whitehorse.
In 24 hours, the alert had been shared or seen by more than 4,000 people.
Conservation officers set a trap on the walking trails, but there’s been no activity around it.
Smith said every year, there are usually one or two bear sightings along the clay cliffs.
“Fortunately, it seems that right now, they’re just moving on to the next berry patch.”
Despite some reports of a grizzly on the Lower Roller Coaster trail near Hidden Lakes earlier this week, Madden said, the department has not received any reports of grizzly sightings.
Last weekend, a half-marathon race-walker said he stumbled upon a grizzly and her cub near Hidden Lakes. The bear took off in the opposite direction.
Both Madden and Smith remind people to practise bear safety when travelling through wilderness areas: carry bear spray, travel in groups, make noise and keep dogs on a leash.
“Also, exercise caution if using ear buds, as they can lessen your awareness to any wildlife activity that may be happening around you,” Madden said.