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Bear gets lift out of town

Amanda Vaughan
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, August 29, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - Environment and Natural Resources officers captured and relocated another black bear on Sunday, this time from the Con Mine area, bringing the total number of bears that have come into Yellowknife in recent weeks to five in total.

"He had been seen frequently around the Tin Can Hill and the Con camp areas," said Renewable Resource Officer Albert Bourque of the city's latest ursine visitor.

He said the bear was a two- to three-year-old male, and it was transported to roughly halfway between Fort Providence and Edzo.

"The young males are good candidates for translocation," Bourque said.

He said that ENR has found five bears in town this summer. Young bears are more easily relocated because they have yet to establish a "home range" - a mental map of its home and backyard, as Bourque describes it.

He said adult bears with a good home range "know where all their food supplies are, and they will spend a great deal of time and effort coming back to country they know."

A relocated adult bear can easily get back to its home territory in 10 days to two weeks, said Bourque, and at this time of year, after spending all of its energy getting back home, it will need to store even more food when it gets back.

"Between now and the end of September, these bears need to be eating 30,000 to 50,000 calories a day," said Bourque.

The dry summer has caused a berry growing season that hasn't been this bad in about five or six years. Bourque said the last time so many hungry bears came into town was in 1999, and that ENR recorded approximately 50 bears in Yellowknife that summer.

Bourque credits an electric fence, installed around the dump in 1999 and activated in 2000, with lowering the number of bear visits.

"The fence has been very effective at keeping the bear population around Yellowknife at a really healthy density," he said.