Check out that grizzly paw! Bear and cubs sighted on Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway

Kelly Ovayuk says he saw the bears on Monday near the first bridge on the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway.

Kelly Ovayuk says he saw bears around 4:45 p.m. Monday near Inuvik

Kelly Ovayuk says he saw a girzzly and two cubs on the Inuvik-Tuktoyatuk Highway just outside of Inuvik, N.W.T., on Monday around 4:45 p.m. (Kelly Ovayuk)

Kelly Ovayuk says he was on his way back home to Tuktoyaktuk from Inuvik, N.W.T., around suppertime Monday when he saw what he thought was a lynx. 

But when he looked a little closer, he noticed it was actually a grizzly bear and two cubs. 

He said they were near the first bridge on the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway just outside Inuvik.

Ovayuk said he was very surprised. 

"I think it's kind of early," he said, wondering why the bear would be out of its den in mid-April.

In an email reply from Joslyn Oosenbrug, spokesperson for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, she said it "may be a little early to see bears coming out of hibernation, but it's not out of the range of normal."

Ovayuk says he was surprised when he saw the bears. (Kelly Ovayuk)

"As the weather warms, we can expect to see more bears throughout the Mackenzie Delta in the coming days and weeks," she said. "With more people out on the land this year in response to COVID-19, it will be especially important that residents take all possible precautions to avoid bear encounters."

Ovayuk said it has been especially warm the last few days, and wants to make sure everyone stays aware of their surroundings. 

He said people set rabbit snares in the area where he saw the bears. 

"I just advise everybody to be careful," he said. "Just watch, always look around, because you never know."

Oosenbrug said the department did not receive an official report of the bears Ovayuk saw, but says officers have received a report about bears along the Aklavik road about five kilometres away.

Oosenbrug said people should report all bear sightings to an Environment and Natural Resources office. 

With files from Wanda McLeod


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