Whitehorse Daily Star

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LONG-TERM VISION – Left to right: Graham Van Tighem, the executive director of the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Manage- ment Board, along with Yukon government biologists Tom Jung and Tyler Kuhn, present a 25-year draft plan on grizzly bears that was released Wednesday.

Long-term grizzly bear plan issued for Yukon

The territorial government released its first comprehensive territory-wide draft plan on grizzly bear conservation Wednesday, complete with 33 “actions” that would help meet seven overall goals.

By Palak Mangat on August 23, 2018

The territorial government released its first comprehensive territory-wide draft plan on grizzly bear conservation Wednesday, complete with 33 “actions” that would help meet seven overall goals.

The report itself is not meant to be prescriptive, and does therefore not offer concrete recommendations to which hard timelines are connected. It does, however, provide a roadmap of sorts about the 25-year-outlook for grizzlies in the Yukon.

That’s according to the Environment Department and Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board (YFWMB) officials who told media at a technical briefing Wednesday afternoon that the document could be used as a stepping stone to legislative or act changes.

“We had a lot of regulatory proposals put forth for grizzly bears without really having a framework to rely on in terms of what our overall vision or strategies were,” said Tom Jung, a senior wildlife biologist with the department.

“It was important to have this base piece of information.”

That’s after the federal government classified grizzly bears as species at risk – a webpage shows that the species are of “special concern” in areas like the Yukon, Nunavut, B.C. and Manitoba, while in Newfoundland & Labrador and Quebec, they are listed as extinct.

Creating this plan was an effort to be “proactive ... knowing that somewhere down the road, Canada would be looking at putting in a grizzly bear national plan,” Jung added.

It’s something the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) said is also a step in the right direction, calling it “encouraging.

“This is a pretty high-level document,” noted Adil Darvesh, the communications co-ordinator with CPAWS.

With one of the plan’s seven goals focusing on taking care of the land that bears inhabit, he said, there could have been more of an effort to address the cumulative effects on the land.

“I didn’t see that in any of the actions on how they plan on mitigating those,” Darvesh said.

That can go beyond things like the building of roads to include factors like noise pollution and human-bear interactions and conflicts, Darvesh added.

One of the survey’s questions (39) hinted at this, asking if the surveyors opposed or supported making sure that proposed developments in the area would minimize the potential to create conflicts. The majority (86 per cent) supported the idea while five per cent were neutral and the remaining nine per cent opposed it.

Those developments, the report noted, can include residential subdivisions, industrial properties and agricultural developments.

While the report does not make specific recommendations, Darvesh did acknowledge that it could be used in decisions around land-use planning and the proposal of other developments in areas around the territory.

“How those projects will affect the habitat and ecological integrity of the environment” are all important considerations, he continued.

Things like human-bear conflicts can grow increasingly important with the influx of tourists the Yukon sees throughout the summer months as well.

For instance, in July and August, the number of people who cross the border at Canada Customs points of entry climbs to about 100,000 from the much lower 3,000 to 4,000 just a couple months earlier during January and February – that’s according to figures provided by the Yukon Bureau of Statistics earlier this month.

The draft plan does not, however, rule out any regulation changes, with a release noting it “could include” these by helping inform management decisions.

Echoing Darvesh’s statement, the YFWMB agreed, noting the plan may have been a long time coming.

“It’s something that has been anticipated for a long time by organizations like (renewable resources councils) or municipal governments and so forth,” Graham Van Tighem said.

He noted that his time as executive director on the board has enabled him to hear a diversity of opinions.

Part of those views are reflected in the report: perhaps the starkest difference of opinion lies between big game hunters and those who are not.

On average, big game hunters supported the hunting of grizzly bears by Yukon residents, while those who were not opposed it.

However, both those from a community and people in Whitehorse specifically opposed non-resident hunting of the bears.

The plan was also sparked in part by public concern of roadside bear hunting dating back to 2010.

The territorial government did not accept the board’s recommendation to implement a hunting ban in certain ares of the territory over the last number of years – a recommendation that itself has evolved.

This time around, the draft plan does not explicitly take a position on the issue, but it does reference the results of one of the questions asked in the survey.

That question (37) asks if surveyors oppose or support regulations to restrict roadside bear hunting, to which most responded that they strongly agree.

That means that 75 per cent supported the idea, while five per cent were neutral and 20 per cent opposed it.

The report adds that “as such, there is currently no clear path forward on this issue at the territorial level.

“Rather, the issue has been reviewed and is best addressed at a local level through the Yukon Wildlife Act regulation change proposal process,” it continued.

That was echoed by Van Tighem, who said the board deals with Yukon-wide issues but there are bodies that may be better left to make decisions about their traditional territory.

“One of the things we didn’t want to do is create a plan that would take away from local management,” he said, adding that local management can involve First Nations government and renewable resources councils.

“We don’t want to have a plan that overrides renewal resources councils’ ability to create their own management strategy.”

Jung nodded, adding that “the conservation plan can inform policy developments or regulations, but it doesn’t make them.”

Adding that taking a closer look at setting quotas for hunting may be helpful, Darvesh noted “it’s important to have science-based decisions.

“As long as the decision is made with a conscious effort to keep grizzly bear populations sustainable into the future, then it’s the right move.”

Jung explained that there are more short-term and long-term priorities that lend itself to the overall vision of the population of grizzly bears over the next couple of decades.

“For short-term priorities, looking at immediate changes, we can take one to two years – longer term was more on the order of five years or so,” explained Tyler Kuhn, a biologist with the department.

It’s also partly why the plan didn’t specify a timeframe, he added, as Jung noted that longer-term actions could take generations to achieve.

One of the immediate actions (4.1) the plan says is possible that will help achieve one of the overall goals of ensuring harvesting is sustainable and respectful, is to implement a total allowable harvest of grizzly bears in each bear management unit within the territory.

“Conceptually that sounds pretty straight-forward to do in terms of making a regulation change – however, it’s going to require a lot of discussion,” Jung explained.

Van Tighem hinted that changes to the practice could be in the works, but it was too soon to say one way or the other.

“I would anticipate in the future there may be some specific regulation changes that come up from some of the communities to deal with issues such as roadside bear hunting,” he said, explaining that it may be a concern for one community or First Nation, for instance, but not another.

As for the next steps: the department explained that the draft plan will be open for public comment come September and last about 60 days.

Community meetings facilitated by First Nations governments and councils are common, Van Tighem added, along with the government’s consultation process.

The YFWMB is hoping to recommend the plan to the minister at its December board meeting.

Comments (22)

Up 0 Down 0

Don Stewart on Dec 8, 2018 at 4:16 pm

Hunting for food and eating animals has been the natural way of humans for millions of years.
Not hunting or being Vegitarian in MOST societies has only been a thing for a few decades.
Eating a hamburger is the same as hunting, something has to die.
Black Bears taste good why can't eating Grizzly meat be a requirement of hunting them to use all the animal???
Then most people are happy.
Non-residents, like I hope to some day, spend thousands of $'s creating jobs in the Territories to hunt bears and other Managed big game animals.
Anti's will never be happy, I think it's the lack of real protein that makes them miserable, heh, heh.

Up 1 Down 0

Ilove Parks on Aug 29, 2018 at 5:09 pm

in my opinion we have problem people not problem bears

Up 7 Down 5

Yukoner867 on Aug 28, 2018 at 12:12 pm

@ Yukon Hunter
So you're asking me to provide evidence to back up a statement that literally starts with "there is no evidence"?? Jeez, tough crowd.
How about every Env publication on grizzly bears, including the hunting regs and the "Species at Risk Info Sheet" which state that the grizzly bear population in Yukon is considered stable.
Perhaps you can provide something more substantial that says they are declining? Or in need of being managed?
Perhaps you can contribute something to the conversation?

Up 5 Down 5

Yukon Hunter on Aug 27, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Yukoner867. You said:
"There is zero evidence to support a need for a grizzly management plan. The grizzly population is stable in most areas of Yukon, and likely increasing in others."
Ok, cite your data. You said it, back it up. Otherwise, you're just throwing out BS.

Up 5 Down 11

My Opinion on Aug 27, 2018 at 1:23 pm

Bears are a problem in the City and something that will become very apparent when someone dies. However we should not be shooting problem bears. Guys in the Government use extreme force as their first option and then lay the blame on us for having a BBQ, smoker, compost, garden, black rubber things, bird feeders, chickens, farm animals or pets, how about the exhaust fan from my range hood of my stove, give me a break.

We are going to have problem bears as long as we are here. We should be relocating them. Maybe it doesn't work if you take them a couple hundred km's or into another bears territory but certainly we could help restock areas down south that have been devastated.

Let's think outside the box guys and get proactive. Tired about hearing it is my BBQ's fault.

Up 5 Down 13

Uptight on Aug 27, 2018 at 11:32 am

Max your worldview is blighted and sad, you should have been hugged more as a child and told you were important. Ditto you PSG .

Up 10 Down 2

ProScience Greenie on Aug 25, 2018 at 12:27 pm

Right on Max Mack. It is very important that everyone should read and understand the Umbrella Final Agreement,

Up 18 Down 11

Fair Chase on Aug 25, 2018 at 11:30 am

Roadside killing of wildlife is murder not hunting and is perpetrated by persons who lack hunting skills and ethics. Discharge of firearms within 700 meters of any and all roads should be banned.

Up 14 Down 7

Atom on Aug 25, 2018 at 11:10 am

Yukoner867 for Premier.
YFWMB is lead by wanna be outfitter and documents such as these are nothing but a waste of good money that comes from Ottawa.
GVT and company better make sure there are opportunities to hunt in Yukon instead of feel good yuppy crap....bears are everywhere...da

Up 9 Down 5

Brian on Aug 25, 2018 at 9:12 am

Nicely said. I agree with you.

Up 2 Down 8

Harry K. on Aug 24, 2018 at 6:10 pm

I think Trump jr could be given a bow-hunting permit as a promotional thing.

Up 25 Down 5

Max Mack on Aug 24, 2018 at 4:44 pm

"One of the things we didn’t want to do is create a plan that would take away from local management." In other words, control by First Nations.

And, as we've seen with several recent announcements, First Nations regulate according to feeling and their immediate needs and desires - not anything remotely approaching planning or science.

The Umbrella Final Agreement envisaged a way to cooperatively manage resources. It looks like that process has been completely thrown out the window.

Up 20 Down 9

Yukon Justice on Aug 24, 2018 at 4:19 pm

Re: (4:1) ...ensuring harvesting is sustainable and respectful...

How is the killing of these magnificent animals for sport and enjoyment respectful ?

Up 24 Down 11

Yukoner867 on Aug 24, 2018 at 3:15 pm

This is a classic example of a "make work project", and a reaction to southern, and bleeding heart influence.
There is zero evidence to support a need for a grizzly management plan. The grizzly population is stable in most areas of Yukon, and likely increasing in others.
Environment continues to stray further and further away from wildlife manager, and closer and closer to political puppets.
Show that the grizzlies need help, and you will have overwhelming support from both hunters and non. This management plan is not worth the paper its printed on. YFWMB can you please stop drafting a plan to fit your pre-determined agenda? If you're looking for work, try defending the rights of hunters. Lord knows we could use the help these days.

Up 20 Down 8

ProScience Greenie on Aug 24, 2018 at 2:23 pm

Some Yukoners, for traditional reasons enjoy eating black bear so that's ok because they put it on the table. For the life of me though, I have no idea why anyone would want to blast away at a grizzly bear just to put a trophy on the wall. Pathetic. That should be banned. If the Outfitters don't like it they can shove it as they should be at the very bottom of the priority list for wild game harvest.

As far as roadside hunting goes, many of us know the lay of the land about where all the cabins, houses, farms etc are and keep it safe but sadly, there are more and more idiots are out and about during hunting season that blast away at anything, anywhere so if roadside hunting is banned it's probably a good thing.

Up 15 Down 13

Allan Foster on Aug 24, 2018 at 12:06 pm

I want to see Donald Trump Junior fight a bear "Davey Crockett Style" (with just a knife and a grin)

Elsewise he ain't paying anywhere near enough to be here.

Up 17 Down 7

Dictonary on Aug 24, 2018 at 9:15 am

@call it what it is,

literally the second definition from the dictionary:

gerund or present participle: harvesting

1. gather (a crop) as a harvest.
"after harvesting, most of the crop is stored in large buildings"
synonyms: gather (in), bring in, reap, pick, collect
"he harvested the wheat"

2. catch or kill (animals) for human consumption or use.
3. remove (cells, tissue, or an organ) from a person or animal for transplantation or experimental purposes.
4. collect or obtain (a resource) for future use.
"the research teams are leading the way in identifying new ways of harvesting the sun's energy"

We all have google, and we all have a dictionary, your anti-hunting bias was showing nicely through your post though. Cheers.

Up 26 Down 10

Ilove Parks on Aug 24, 2018 at 8:56 am

Hope they ban roadside hunting and have a system to warn the fine rural people who do not use bear fencing then shoot bears which come in for chickens and dog food.

Bears should be afforded protection from stupid people.

Up 16 Down 12

Thomas Brewer on Aug 23, 2018 at 6:44 pm

@call it what it is
"Killing" is wasting. That's illegal and immoral.
"Harvesting" is making use of something (do you reap and sow trees for your firewood?). We harvest electricity from hydroelectric installations and solar panels.

Up 29 Down 13

Northender on Aug 23, 2018 at 6:25 pm

Killing bears is completely out of step with Yukoners values, both First Nation and non-First Nation. The only ones who want to kill bears are the commercial hunting outfitters. Any government strategy that doesn't honestly address that is not worth the paper it s written on. There is no need to kill any animal that can't be eaten. Period.

Up 20 Down 0

Person on Aug 23, 2018 at 6:12 pm

Please include a link to the actual document or at least where it can be obtained so people can read it themselves. Same goes for any such story’s you cover. Similarly if a story has a significant spatial or geographic component please include a map or image rather than attempt a long winded and less clear text description.

Up 35 Down 26

call it what it is on Aug 23, 2018 at 4:30 pm

"Harvest." Is anyone else cringing when they hear that word substituted in for killing Yukon wildlife?

"I harvested a bear". No you didn't 'harvest' anything. A harvest is reaping what you have sown. The word is specific to crops and grain.
Let's at least look it right in the eye and be honest about what people are doing. Here is a corrected sentence from this article:

" … the overall goals of ensuring killing is sustainable and respectful, implement a total allowable kill of grizzly bears in each bear management unit within the territory."

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