Don’t be like Goldilocks

Regions: Campbell, Klondike, Kluane, Northern & Arctic Yukon, Southern Lakes, Watson Lake Region, Whitehorse Region
Themes: Wilderness & Wildlife Categories: Wilderness & Wildlife, Wildlife

One of the more remarkable features of our territory is the fact that we’re home to some of the world’s most unique wildlife, including our favourite honey-drunk neighbours, the bears. While they’re a huge attraction of the Yukon, it’s important to stay bear-aware on all of your adventures. Besides not eating their porridge or sleeping in their beds, there are a few safety tips to make note of when in bear country.

What kind of bears live in the Yukon?

Our territory is home to Grizzly bears, Black bears, and in the far north, majestic Polar bears. Grizzlies are brown-blonde and can weigh up to 800 pounds. Black bears are brownish-black, and can weigh up to 400 pounds. And Yogi bear is a cartoon, so he's weightless.

When are bears out ‘n’ about?

Bears leave their dens in spring, around April and May. They breed in May and June, which is when they head to meadows, rivers, and alpine areas to seek out food, do yoga in the park, and bask in the midnight

Where can I see them in all of their furry glory?

We don’t recommend seeking out bears—let’s face it, there’s a pretty slim chance you’re winning that wrestling match. But in the interest of staying bear-aware, you should know that Grizzlies usually stick to alpine elevations, while black bears like to roam below the treeline. You’ll also spot bears on major highways, like the Alaska Highway, Haines Road, North Klondike Highway, South Klondike Highway, and the Dempster Highway.

What should I bring (besides a second pair of underwear—just in case)?

There are a few rules that you should follow when trekking through the Yukon during bear season. Here are our top 13:

  • Carry bear spray and know how to use it properly.
  • Learn how to identify signs of bear activity.
  • Know if the area you’re in is good bear habitat.
  • If possible, choose trails with good visibility.
  • Make lots of noise, like singing "It's a small world" over and over (although that's more likely to annoy the bears back into hibernation vs scaring them).
  • Travel in groups.
  • Avoid travelling at dusk or night.
  • When camping, set up your tent away from wildlife trails.
  • Approach thickets from upwind so that bears can smell you (and not be surprised).
  • Don't store food in your tent.
  • Know what to do if you encounter a bear on the trail.
  • Keep your camp clean by storing attractants in bear-proof containers or inside vehicles. Attractants are any substances bears can smell including: coolers, food, beverages, toiletries, pet food, garbage, recyclables, barbecues.
  • Don't feed bears. Like, ever.

For more tips, check out this Travel Safety Guide while planning your trip.