Officials in the Yukon say a licensed hunter has been charged under the Wildlife Act in connection with a grizzly bear carcass found earlier this month near Klukshu.
And some residents familiar with the bears in the area believe the dead animal was a beloved grizzly known locally as the "mayor of Klukshu."
On Nov. 15 near Klukshu, a traditional fishing village in the southwestern Yukon, award-winning wildlife photographer Peter Mather says a flock of ravens alerted him to the carcass.
He says he spoke about his discovery with Champagne and Aishihik First Nations elder Chuck Hume who told him that the carcass could be the "mayor."
Mather, who got to know the "mayor" after filming a documentary last year, said he had not seen the animal around the area in a while.
Mather found the carcass on Nov. 15. On Thursday, Yukon conservation officers said a licensed hunter has been charged in connection with the carcass. (Peter Mather)
"You know, Chuck grew up with that bear and ever since he was a baby he has known it," Mather said.
The dead bear's head, hide and claws are missing from the kill site, which Mather says is usually the sign of a trophy hunter. But it also makes it harder for the bear to be identified.
"It's a bear that was killed that shouldn't have been killed," says Mather.
"They're very much like people, you know. So it's very sad."
Peter Mather, an award-winning wildlife photographer, in the field. (Peter Mather)
Yukon Conservation Officer Services issued a statement on Thursday afternoon, saying that a hunter had been charged in connection with the carcass, and a court date was pending. They did not specify the charges, and said no other details would be released at this time.
'He kinda looked after the village'
Hume says a reason the "mayor" is beloved is because it was known for teaching younger bears at Klukshu to stay on the far side of a nearby creek when feeding in October, avoiding encounters with humans.
"He kinda looked after the village," Hume said of the bear.
This came through Hume teaching the bear to stay there through cracker shells.
"So I do a lot of work with the grizzlies there and the mayor was the last one that I did a lot of work with. And once you teach one ... he teaches the rest to feed on the other side of the creek," Hume said.
'He kinda looked after the village,' said Champagne and Aishihik First Nations elder Chuck Hume about 'the mayor of Klukshu.' (Peter Mather)
"We in Klukshu use a big grizzly bear to keep the younger ones away and with him out of the picture, now I have to go back, buy my own cracker shells just to keep them on the other side of the creek."
Hume says he's fearful of how things might be if the "mayor" is no longer around.
"I could remember one year that a grizzly bear had broken into every cabin around there," Hume said.
"Went through one window and in and out the other and made a mess in the cabins."
Hume says he would like to have a three-kilometre corridor around Klukshu declared off-limits to bear hunting.