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Grizzly bear spotted in Porter Creek

Massive Grizzly shot in Porter Creek

A large grizzly bear was shot in Porter Creek early this morning - and wildlife officials believe it’s the bear that’s been the centre of concern recently.

By Whitehorse Star on August 11, 1997

But because a second grizzly is now on the scene, the Department of Renewable Resources still wants residents to stay off local trails on the west side of the Alaska Highway in the Porter Creek and Crestview areas, Dennis Senger, the department’s communications officer, said this morning.

“This one is new, so we don’t know whether it is just passing through or if it has become habituated in the area as well,” Senger said. Staff are certain the bear shot behind Alder Street at 4:00 this morning is the same bear that prompted concern when it was sighted several times over the last two weeks.

Officials were at the site this morning of a culvert trap put out to catch the bruin when the grizzly came by and walked part-way into the trap, but didn’t trigger it, he said.

As the 238-kilogram (525-pound) bear exited the trap and began walking away, conservation officer Kevin Bowers shot and killed the animal. Department officials maintained all along that the bear, even it was caught in a trap, would be destroyed because it had become habituated to the area. It’s felt this was one of the bears that had become accustomed to dining out at the city dump, which is a stone’s throw away from the woods behind the two subdivisions.

Wildlife officials anticipated this type of occurrence would follow last year’s placement of electric fence around the entire dump, Senger said. “We believe it was a bear displaced .... In fact, we tracked the prints back to the electric fence.”

Meanwhile, the territory’s Tombstone Park along the Dempster Highway remained closed this morning because a pair of grizzlies is frequenting the area. It was shut Sunday.

The park will be opened and closed on a day-to-day basis, depending on the activity of the two bears, Senger said. Conservation officer Kris Gustafson estimated this afternoon that the dead bear in Whitehorse was approximately 15 years old, judging by the wear of the large molar teeth.

Gustafson expects the department will keep its five snares and one trap in place for the next five to seven days in an attempt to catch the second bear. Although he’s certain the bear shot this morning is the animal that was the focus of concern, if the new arrival turns out to match the same description of the nuisance bear, it too will have to be killed, Gustafson said.

But if it can be ruled out as the bear seen in the neigborhoods recently, the conservation officer noted, it will be relocated if caught. “We got the right one, I think,” Gustafson said. “But, by the same token, we want to play it safe.” A primary reason wildlife officials want residents to stay out of the area is because of the snares set out, he addeed.

A bear, said Gustafson, can be caught just by a toe. And if a passerby decided to investigate a strange noise from a thrashing bruin caught in a snare, the bear could tear loose and be “very, very dangerous.”

All in all, however, this year has been a good year in terms of not receiving many nuisance bear complaints, Senger said. Last year, for instance, some 35 bears were shot in what Senger described as a bad year for the production of berries and other vegetation that bears rely on for food.

“They were in dire straits,” Senger said. “It was not a good year to be a bear.”

At the other end of the spectrum is this year’s bumper berry crop that seems to be behind the low number of complaints, he said. So far, as far as Senger can recall, six bears have been shot in the territory, three of which - two black bears and this morning’s grizzly - have been killed in the Whitehorse area.

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