Yukon bears being killed due to people’s choices

The message has been clear: keep your dog on leash when in bear territory. But one hiker didn’t, and a bear near Whitehorse is now dead.

The CBC reported that both Conservation Officers and non-profits are urging residents to change their behaviour following the latest incident, putting the number of bears killed following conflict to nearly 40 in the Whitehorse area.

“The dog was off the leash," a Conservation Officer told the CBC. "And quite often when a dog provokes a bear, they can act defensively, and in turn act quite aggressively towards people, and be quite scary.”

Heather Ashthorn, Executive Director at WildWise Yukon, an organization that seeks to reduce wildlife conflict in the northern territory, told the CBC that the messaging isn’t always popular.

"It's very, very likely that we will encounter a bear along any trail system around Whitehorse," she said. "It is trickier, and it's not a popular message for obvious reasons; people of course want to offer their pets the freedom of being off leash."

While we don’t know if lethal action was necessary, or if non-lethal options were first exhausted, in the nearly 40 cases outlined by the Conservation Officer, it is clear that change has to happen. And that change will always begin with the behaviour of people who create situations that are precursors to conflict.

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