A mother bear, given the name Copper because she had been spending time behind the Copperhouse restaurant in Yellowknife with her two cubs, has been safely relocated, according to wildlife officials.
Mike Westwick, a spokesperson for the N.W.T.'s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR), told CBC News that a wildlife veterinarian, four ENR officers and two biologists headed to the business shortly before 7 p.m. Friday to capture the trio.
"In this case, we were dealing with a populated area — the bears were naturally quite skittish by all the action going on — and a very protective mom, of course," Westwick explained.
The family was first spotted on Thursday near the airport, where ENR said one of the animals had aggressively charged an individual.
Adding to the challenge of capturing the bears near the restaurant, said Westwick, was the fact that one of cubs had climbed up a tree.
"Naturally, it's a pretty scary situation — Mom had been tranquilized already and the cub was looking for some safety," he said.
However, wildlife officers are able to handle "hairy situations when it comes to wildlife interactions," said Westwick.
"Our staff were gently shaking the tree and … [were] able to get the cub to dome down. We were able to catch the cub and bring it over to be tranquilized."
Westwick said the health of the animals was assessed, the mother was tagged with a radio collar, and all three were loaded into a truck and relocated far outside of Yellowknife and Behchokǫ̀, N.W.T., near midnight.
"Folks can likely look forward to some updates on the mom, who we're calling Copper after what was clearly her favourite restaurant, in the coming weeks on social media."
The cubs have not been named, he added.
Westwick also credited staff at Copperhouse for taking "extraordinary measures" to support wildlife officials, including closing their drive-thru on what was likely a busy day for restaurants throughout the city.
A public health order kicked in at midnight, limiting indoor public gatherings — including those inside restaurants and other non-essential businesses — to 10 people.
Westwick urged anyone who spots a bear to contact his department. The number to report wildlife emergencies or sightings in Yellowknife is 867-873-7181.