After a black bear was shot on Wednesday, the Chilkoot Trail has reopened to hikers. Backpackers were given the all-clear on Sunday, three days after the bear was dispatched, but should be aware of camping restrictions. A bear had broken into a cook shack on the Canadian side of the trail, and as a food-conditioned bruin, posed a threat to visitors.
It’s unknown whether the bear shot on Wednesday near the Lindeman Camp was indeed the troublesome bear that prompted the trail closure last week. Parks Canada would not confirm whether the bear shot was, in fact, the culprit. A representative told KHNS last week that the bear was shot out of “absolute necessity.”
Last Monday, a bear broke into a cook shack at Lindeman Camp, about 25 miles from the trailhead in Dyea, and caused significant damage. It returned that evening looking for more food. The popular 33-Mile trail stretches from Dyea, outside Skagway, to Bennett Lake, in British Columbia and the headwaters of the Yukon River. No one was injured in the incident, but last week, hikers were forced to turn around at the border and return to Skagway.
According to a release from the National Park Service, after the first bear was shot, a second bear was spotted in the area exhibiting behaviors of a food-conditioned animal. The release states that a Parks Canada Bear Management Team remains on site to monitor the area.
Ben Hayes is the Chief of Interpretation for the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. He says it took a few days to open the trail after the bear was killed to clean up the area and monitor for more bear activity.
“And let the scent dissipate from the traps that were set, and (clean up) the food and trash that was exposed when the bear entered the cabin and left a lot out and scattered about,” Hayes says.
Hayes says while the trail is open, camping in spots near the incident is restricted. Currently, camping is prohibited at Deep Lake, Lindeman and Bear Loon Lake.
“The only places people can camp are Happy Camp and Bennett.”
A bear incident of this nature, and with this outcome, is a first for the modern-day Chilkoot Trail, according to the park service. Parks Canada and the National Park Service have been managing the trail for just over 40 years. Hayes says this episode serves as a learning opportunity.
“It’s good to remember, wherever we are in bear country, whether it’s on the South Klondike Highway, or the Chilkoot Trail, or hiking up AB Mountain, we can encounter bears,” Hayes says. “We should keep that in mind, we should act appropriately, not only for our safety but so the bears don’t become habituated to human people and food.”
It’s unclear whether measures are being taken to better secure the cook shack that was ransacked. Parks Canada declined to comment on Monday. Hikers who need more information on permits and availability can call the trail center in Skagway at 983-9234.