Multiple bear complaints in Whitehorse over weekend

Conservation officers in Whitehorse had about a dozen calls over the weekend about bears.

Cold, wet spring means berries and other vegetation bears eat are not yet ready

A black bear goes after garbage from a bin in Whitehorse. (Ken Knutson)

Conservation officers had about a dozen calls over the weekend from people in Whitehorse complaining about bears.

A sow and a cub were spotted at the Elijah Smith Elementary school yard.

There were also complaints about different bears in the neighbourhoods of Granger and Copper Ridge. There were also complaints of a bear at the foot of the Black Street stairs downtown.

One bear in Lobird trailer park had to be put down. Another bear was eating trash at the Alaska Highway rest stop near the Mayo Road.

Conservation Officer Ken Knutson said that bear figured out how to open the garbage bin.

"It's truly amazing how dexterous they are and how intelligent they are. I don't think we give them enough credit. He gets on top and he literally peels this back, and he puts it under his feet, stands on it so the lid doesn't snap down and starts picking out choice bits of garbage," said Knutson.

Knutson expects there may be a lot more bear complaints this summer. He says the cold, wet spring means berries and other vegetation bears feed on are not yet ready.

A majority of the calls were about bears attracted to garbage and compost bins in peoples’ backyards. Knutson said he has been in discussions with the city on how to ‘bear-proof’ the community. He said he wants to see deterrents put in place.

"A combination of bylaws to modify peoples’ behaviour, with consequence which is a fine. And mechanical-engineered solutions such as a different type of lid wouldn't be that difficult to implement. Unfortunately, what it means is that people are going to be slightly inconvenienced. But we’re talking about their safety," said Knutson.

So far this season, four bears have been put down and four others have been relocated.