Yukon officials pledge to step up bear awareness efforts in wake of coroner's report
Coroner urges better public education on bear safety starting at a young age
The director of Yukon's Conservation Officer Services says officials will look at ways to get better information out to the public regarding bear safety.
The pledge comes in the wake of a coroner's report released today about the October 2014 death of Claudia Huber, the Johnson's Crossing woman who died after being mauled by a bear. The report urges the government to improve bear safety education.
"The recommendations will be taken very serious by the department," said Kris Gustafson, director of Yukon's Conservation Officer Services.
"So we will look at methods to enhance communications strategies to the public and to cabin owners in particular, to make sure that the information that is available is accurate, modern and explicit in terms of the best ways to react to a bear encounter."
The coroner's report into Huber's death urged the government to offer more information about how to respond to different types of bear attacks, possibly starting with children in grade school. The report also suggests more information for cabin owners about proper ways to store food without attracting bears.
The report revealed that Huber died from a bullet fired by her husband, Matthias Liniger, in an effort to thwart the bear attack. But chief coroner Kirsten Macdonald said Liniger had no choice but to shoot the bear to try to save his wife.
Macdonald also wrote that Huber played dead at Liniger's urging, in an effort to save her from the attack. But that, officials say, is the wrong approach to use during a predatory attack by a grizzly bear. In that situation, fighting back offers the best chance of survival.
Liniger, who ran a small tourism business, said he would normally have know that, but panicked in the heat of the moment.
He endorsed the coroner's recommendations, saying he hopes his own tragedy might help people remember what to do if they're attacked by a bear.