Tuktoyaktuk and Paulatuk see increase in bear break-ins at cabins

Grizzly bears are disturbing cabins and residences in two Arctic communities, and residents say the animals are more aggressive.

Leaders in both communities say they are looking at possible solutions

Bears broke into Annie Wolki's fish camp near Paulatuk, N.W.T., twice this season. (Submitted by Annie Wolki)

In Tuktoyaktuk and Paulatuk, N.W.T., community members are noticing a rise in the number of grizzly bear disturbances at their cabins.

"This year, more than almost any year in the past, they've gotten into almost every cabin out on the land," said Darrel Nasogaluak, chairman of the Hunters and Trappers Committee in Tuktoyaktuk.

He said that cabin owners are doing what they can — using nail boards and plywood to keep the bears out of their cabins — but that's not working.

"They're getting really aggressive. They are going through walls and pulling plywood back and working their way around anything [the homeowners have] tried," said Nasogaluak.

He said many of the cabins have been broken into multiple times.

Nasogaluak said the committee has told residents to forward their complaints to the N.W.T.'s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR). If there are enough complaints, he said, the community may be able to get funding for electrical fences for the cabins.

Mary Ruben-Bennet's locked cabin door was busted in by a hungry bear. (Submitted by Mary Ruben-Bennet)

In a statement, the department said it has "received indirect reports of bear disturbances in the Tuktoyaktuk area, but no direct reports" from cabin owners.

Paulatuk is facing a similar issue.

The department has confirmed two reported bear disturbances in Paulatuk and determined the cause was food being left in the camp.

Paulatuk Mayor Raymond Ruben said officials have made sure that residents know to keep food out of their cabins.

"I know there are one or two where, even though the cabins were pretty much empty, the bears were still poking around and getting into the cabins for, probably, lingering odours," Ruben said.

He said he is trying to get residents to report bear-related disturbances to ENR, and "it will hopefully highlight the increased problems with bears."

Ruben said residents are also worried because bears come into the community of Paulatuk at this time of year, and they will linger on residents' porches in the evening.

"Bears are sniffing their way into their porches," he said. "It's getting close and, knock on wood, we don't want any interaction or injury."

He said the hamlet is looking to secure funding to get somebody who can monitor the community in the early morning hours.

Toby Halle, a renewable resources officer in Inuvik, N.W.T., said anytime a bear-related incident occurs within a cabin or home, it should be reported directly to ENR.