A bear risk assessment for Yukon place

A variety of government institutions share the campus of Yukon Place with Yukon College. The large campus lies within the City of Whitehorse adjacent to a greenspace that acts as a wildlife corridor following McIntyre Creek. The setting is unique and to our knowledge represents the only Canadian post‐secondary institution that shares an adjacent green space with grizzly bears and spawning Chinook salmon. Our report set out to document the extent of wildlife activity in the area and identify options to reduce human‐bear conflicts around Yukon Place.

Project Overview

Our study collected field data on the availability of natural foods that might attract bears to the campus perimeter and inventoried the human‐related attractants that occurred on campus including solid waste storage, compost and gardens as well as ornamental fruiting trees and shrubs. We also summarized historical records of bear and other wildlife sightings and occurrences near campus from a variety of sources. Bears are regular visitors to the McIntyre Creek area and we noted four occasions when local conservation officers had to remove animals; a grizzly bear was shot on campus in 2006 after getting into garbage containers, a female grizzly bear and two black bears were live‐trapped and relocated. Our report lays out a variety of detailed options to reduce the potential for future human‐bear conflicts. Public education can play a role and Campus Housing at Yukon College has already taken steps to provide orientation for students living on campus under the theme of “Bear in Mind”. Yukon Government, in their role as “landlord” at Yukon Place, could take steps to deal with the attraction posed by ornamental plants such as Mayday cherry trees and Mountain Ash and grounds maintenance staff could help by replacing four wooden garbage cans with bearproof receptacles.

The large number of people living and working at Yukon Place generate a considerable amount of solid waste that needs to be stored on site and this poses a strong attractant for wildlife in general and bears in particular. None of the current storage systems we surveyed would be considered bear‐resistant. Our report lays out 6 approaches to changing solid waste storage so that Yukon Place could become a bear safe environment. Both Yukon College and the Seniors’ Residence have vegetable gardens and associated composting areas that could attract bears at certain times of the year. We provide details on how electric bear fencing could be used to deter bears at a reasonable cost.

Administrators at Yukon Place face a challenge. At a minimum they must take steps to ensure that garbage and other human attractants are handled in a better way (for the benefit of both humans and wildlife). There is also the opportunity to enhance innovations for bear safety on campus to make Yukon Place a role model for the wider community.

Project Team

Andrew G. Smith, Student, Renewable Resources Management Program, Yukon College


Yukon College Faculty Research Fund