A second black bear was shot Sunday on the Chilkoot Trail outside of Skagway. The week before, a bruin thought to be the culprit of a smash and grab at a food-storage cabin along the path was destroyed by Parks Canada officials. After the cook shack was broken into, hikers were evacuated from the trail until the bears were dealt with. The trail has since reopened, but backpackers are warned to use extreme caution in the area.
On June 20, a black bear broke into a makeshift kitchen and food cache on the trail near the Lindeman Camp. The camp is about 25 miles into the 33-mile trek from Dyea, to Bennett Lake in the British Columbia. A few days later a bear was shot by Canadian wildlife officials. But a second bear was seen in the area exhibiting similar, worrisome behavior. A few days after that, a second bear was dispatched.
Parks Canada said they made the decision to put the second bear down after observing its behavior, and consulting with experts.
Canadian officials did not want to be recorded for this story, but said the bears posed a threat to hikers’ safety. Members of the Parks Canada Bear Management Team remain on site.
Between the incident at the cook shack on June 20, and June 26, when the first bear was killed, part of the trail was closed and hikers were turned around back to Skagway.
Parks Canada said in an email response to KHNS, that the necropsy results of the first bear showed no evidence of food from the cabin in its digestive system. But, they said, further tests and evaluation will determine if bite marks and paw prints at the cabin are connected to that bear. They added that evidence from the scene matches physical measurements of the two bears that were destroyed, indicating that both bears entered the patrol cabin at Lindeman.
The decision to shoot two bears didn’t come lightly, the email read. But, in the end, it was considered the appropriate management action to ensure visitor safety. This episode is a first on the modern-day Chilkoot Trail.
Restrictions are still in place on the trail. Hikers must travel in groups of at least four, carry at least one can of bear spray, and dogs are not allowed.
Camping has opened up at Bare Loon, but the Lindeman camp remains closed as a precautionary measure.
Parks Canada said bears habituated to human food can result in dangerous human-wildlife conflict.
There has been no bear activity in the area for more than three days now. But Canadian bear experts are still monitoring the site 24 hours a day with wildlife cameras, and sand traps set to capture paw prints.
Parks Canada said “When bears and other wildlife become comfortable around people and public spaces it can become a risk to humans and themselves.”
Reporting in Haines, I’m Jillian Rogers.