What is the future of grizzly bears in the Yukon?

The Yukon government and the Fish and Wildlife Management Board presented a Grizzly Bear Conservation Plan for the next 25 years on Wednesday, drawing on, among other things, the results of a public consultation conducted last year.

The development of a plan comes after the controversy surrounding the hunter ‘s killing of a grizzly bear along the Tagish Road in 2013 . The issue of human – bear coexistence has also been in the news for a few years because of the bears ‘ access to Whitehorse ‘ s garbage and some worrying tourist behavior .

Basically, the conservation plan is not about managing the grizzly, but managing our interaction with the grizzly.

Tom Jung, biologist and co-chair of the working group

The plan proposes 33 measures, divided into 7 general axes:

  • create a cultural relationship and respect towards the animal;
  • recognize the importance of its habitat;
  • reduce conflicts between humans and bears;
  • ensure that the hunt is sustainable;
  • ensure that in-kind observation is respectful of bears and their habitat;
  • improve the decision-making of the authorities by increasing their level of knowledge;
  • better understand the human dimensions of protection.

The plan does not propose the adoption of regulations or changes to laws, but rather, say the officials, to encourage the adoption of appropriate local approaches.

A “proactive” plan

Officials say that in the Yukon the survival of the species is not at risk and the goal is to establish a work plan for the coming years. Yukoners will be asked to comment on the proposals in September.

Graham Van Tighem, the director of the Fisheries and Wildlife Management Board, which includes First Nations, territorial and federal representatives, says that many Yukoners have spoken in the past and have favored the discussion.

The issue of roadside hunting led to the creation of a working group to find a compromise. It was a kind of negotiation on the issue and, rather than just dealing with this hunt, Yukoners expressed an explosion of ideas, concerns, ideological values ​​and frustrations.

Graham Van Tighem, Director of the Fisheries and Wildlife Management Board

The plan was based in part, but not only, on a public consultation conducted primarily online last year and attended by 1400 people. Although officials say that these views are not representative of all Yukoners, some trends emerge.

Almost all respondents think it is important for grizzly bears to live and be part of the territory for generations to come. Respondents also wanted municipalities to have bear-proof garbage cans and tickets could be given to owners whose garbage is available to bears.

No consensus on grizzly hunt

Officials say the issue of hunting will have to be discussed further as opinions on the subject remain divergent. Working Committee Co-Chair Tom Jung points out that this is a social issue.

Yukoners believe the grizzly bear, but their way of looking at it differs from perspective. Hunting is valued in the Yukon, and our role is to make sure it is sustainable. The biggest question surrounding the acceptance of the hunt goes beyond our field of expertise.

Tom Jung, biologist and co-chair of the working group

Graham Van Tighem pointed out, however, that the concept of conservation in the land claim agreements that govern the Fisheries and Wildlife Management Board is defined as “the optimal long-term productivity of the fishery and wildlife to ensure sustainable exploitation “.

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