Electric bear fence allows tenters to return to Yukon campground

Tent campers can once again stay at Congdon Creek Campground. The territorial campground, located on the west side of Kluane Lake, has closed its gates to soft-sided camping due to a "long history" of conflicts between bears and campers.

Congdon Creek had been closed to soft-sided camping due to conflicts between humans and bears

Research assistant Brandon Drost stands beside a sign explaining how to use the tent area inside the electric fence. (Submitted by Scott Gilbert/Yukon College)

Tent campers can once again stay at Yukon's Congdon Creek Campground, thanks to the installation of an electric fence to deter bears. 

The territorial campground has been mostly closed to soft-sided camping for several years, while still open to those travelling in RVs or hard-sided trailers. 

The site, located on the west side of Kluane Lake, has a "long history" of conflicts between bears and campers, explains Scott Gilbert, a biology instructor at Yukon College.

Bear-proof food lockers are provided for people, like cycle tourers, who don't have a vehicle to store bear-attractants in. (Submitted by Scott Gilbert/Yukon College)

"Bears have always been frequent in that area. It's an important movement area," he said, noting that bears like to move along the Kluane lakeshore and feed in the Congdon creek fan.  

Gilbert worked with Yukon Parks to re-establish a tenting area. They set up an electric fence with room for about eight tents, depending on their size.

Gilbert says the fence itself is not a new idea — electric fences are used by groups like researchers and industry to deter animals from entering camp — but he says it's a first for a Yukon territorial campground.  

The 8-stranded fence uses an electric current to keep wildlife from entering the enclosure. Humans don't want to touch it either and signs instruct them how to safely navigate the fence. 

The enclosure is not intended as a place to store food. Yukon Parks has installed bear-proof storage bins for people travelling by foot or bike, who can't store food in a vehicle. 

'They sleep better at night'

Brandon Drost, a student at Yukon College assisting with the project, has been using a survey to get feedback from campers. 

He said it's been all positive so far. 

"They like the idea. They feel safer in the bear fence. They sleep better at night."

Drost says campers are excited to see fences like this in other campgrounds. 

Yukon Parks was not available to comment for this story. 

The camping area within the electric fence can accommodate about eight tents. (Submitted by Scott Gilbert/Yukon College)

With files from Mike Rudyk


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