North

Squatting campers cause tempers to flare at Yukon campgrounds

Although official numbers are not yet available for this summer's season, Yukon parks officials say traffic has been so great this summer that conflicts over camping spots, particularly ones where people set up for extended periods of time, have broken out.

People leaving trailers at choice campgrounds, returning on weekend leading to 'interesting kerfuffles'

Yukon parks officials say disputes over campsites can get heated at times. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

Although official numbers are not yet available for this summer's season, Yukon parks officials say the territory's campgrounds — especially the ones nearest Whitehorse — are getting busier.

Demand has been so great this summer that conflicts over camping spots, particularly ones where people set up for extended periods of time, have broken out, said park officer Eric Bonnett.

Officially, reservations are not permitted, but that doesn't stop some campers who come out to a site on Monday, leave their trailer and aren't back until Friday after work. It's a particular problem with the most desirable sites, Bonnett said.

"It's a very difficult issue to deal with," Bonnett added, noting parks officers are trying to track users for that reason. 

"There certainly have been some interesting kerfuffles over that this year," he said. "They picked them 'cause they want them, but they're not around and the other people who come around they don't see people and they also want the sites... and it can get heated at times."

Have a backup plan

Christina Aldrey of Whitehorse said she encountered the problem twice during a single camping trip this summer.

After arriving at the Kusawa Lake campground to find the last site occupied by a lawn chair, she went to the Takhini River campground and set up camp in an open site.

Hours later, she said, her party was confronted by a woman who claimed she had reserved the site three days before. Aldrey said the woman's group had already set up camp at another site.

"There is nothing more frustrating than driving a long way to a 'full' campground late on a Friday and having to backtrack to find another campground," she wrote in a Facebook message.

"We often avoid certain campgrounds or only go where there is a backup camp ground within a reasonable distance."

Bonnett said fortunately, it hasn't come to physical confrontations, "but there certainly have been some cases where people were yelling and hollering and threatening ... each other."  

He said usually when that happens parks officers are called right away and try to sort things out, but "not to everyone's satisfaction because only one person can have the spot for the weekend."  

If you missed out on your favourite spot this year, parks officials say that for the second year in a row 10 campgrounds across the territory will be open and fully serviced until Sept. 30.

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