N.W.T. wildlife officers shot and killed 2 bears in Yellowknife area

·3 min read
A file photo of a black bear near Gameti, N.W.T. on July 9, 2019. Officials killed two bears in Yellowknife on Thursday that were roaming some city neighbourhoods. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)
A file photo of a black bear near Gameti, N.W.T. on July 9, 2019. Officials killed two bears in Yellowknife on Thursday that were roaming some city neighbourhoods. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)

Two bears, roaming in or near Yellowknife, were shot and killed by wildlife officers Thursday evening.

According to a news release issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources [ENR], the first bear was killed behind the tennis courts near the Frame Lake Trail after approaching multiple parents and children.

The second bear was killed in Prelude Lake East, just outside of Yellowknife. That bear had previously attempted to get into a house and garage.

Jessica Davey-Quantick, communications planning specialist with ENR, responded to questions about the incidents via email.

She noted that it was not common for bears to enter areas where there is lots of human activity.

"But situations like this do happen periodically," she wrote.

"A bear getting close to people and children is a concern and not to be taken lightly, especially when there are not too many places for a bear to escape without interacting with people."

The department did not specify what kind of bears they were.

Tranquilizing not a 'suitable option' 

Comments under ENR's Facebook post were mixed, with some people questioning why both bears were killed instead of relocated.

Davey-Quantick told CBC News that tranquillization was not a safe option in either of these incidents.

"It [a tranquilizer] can take more than 10 minutes to take effect, and bears can be unpredictable during that time," she wrote.

"In this case, the close proximity of the bear to people and its behaviour did not make tranquilization a suitable option.

"The urgency and threat to public safety led to the decision to dispatch [kill] the bear."

Tennis coaches saw wildlife officers arrive with shotguns 

Jan Martinek and Tamara Jovic, tennis coaches at the Yellowknife Tennis Club, were running a scheduled lesson when two wildlife officers arrived at the courts at around 8:30 pm.

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

"Two guys [wildlife officers] drove to the tennis courts and trucks with big guns," said Jovic.

"All of the ladies [at the tennis lesson] were freaking out."

Martinek also described the incident, and said the wildlife officers loaded their shotguns and ran into the trail behind the clubhouse.

"Like 30 seconds later, we heard five gunshots and later they came back all sweaty, saying that they shot it because it charged them," he said.

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

"Everyone was pretty scared, and they were all hoping that they were just scaring the bear away ... And then when they said they shot it, everyone was pretty, pretty shocked.

Jovic said she felt "neutral" about ENR's decision to shoot the bear.

"I don't really know what the procedure is. It's a bear in the city, so that's pretty dangerous," she said.

A couple of bikers at the scene told Jovic that the bear had been right behind the clubhouse.

"I had actually been in the clubhouse like 10 minutes before they [the wildlife officers] showed up.

"I was like, 'Wow. I could have gotten eaten by a bear.'"

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

Both Jovic and Martinek said that it was the first time they had seen a bear in the area.

"I've been [teaching at the tennis courts] for the last four summers," said Martinek.

"And this is the first time we've ever had any animal interruption."

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