Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

NNSL Photo/graphic

This grizzly bear was shot by wildlife officials near the North Slave Correctional Centre, Tuesday. - photo courtesy of Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Grizzly shot dead after three-day search

Dorothy Westerman
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 21/05) - A three-day hunt for a sickly grizzly bear came to an end Tuesday with the animal shot by wildlife officers aboard a hovering helicopter.

They'd been tracking the 300-pound bear since Sunday, said Raymond Bourget, senior wildlife officer with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It was finally found near the North Slave Correctional Centre.

"When the helicopter flew overhead, it became quite aggressive and started jumping up at the helicopter," Bourget said. "It was much more humane to kill it now."

This is the second time in recent years that a grizzly bear has ventured so close to Yellowknife, Bourget said.

He estimated the animal to be between 15-18 years old. The average life span of a grizzly is about 25 years.

"He was not in very good shape and he had started to lose muscle mass."

Grizzlies are normally found on the barrenlands above the treeline. Although their range is quite large, the bear should have been hibernating at this time of year.

"There are some complications with the warmer weather and the fact that it wasn't in great shape," he said.

The search began after a resident of Pickerel Lake on the Ingraham Trail reported the bear on her doorstep at 6 a.m. Sunday.

Tracks heading west towards Yellowknife were subsequently found by an officer, Bourget said.

Two traps were set ahead of the bear's anticipated route Sunday evening in the Ingraham Trail area. More tracks were discovered near Cameron River, Monday morning, and that afternoon it was spotted on Mason Lake near Dettah. Officers on snowmobiles searched the area, but didn't spot the animal.

As a precaution, Dettah residents were advised to stay close to home Monday evening.

Jim Lynn said he was concerned when he learned of the large lurking bear.

"It was a surprise to learn there was a grizzly roaming around the country," Lynn said.

On Tuesday, wildlife officers on snowmobiles and in a helicopter tracked the bear in the Duck Lake region, and then into Yellowknife, behind the Multiplex and onto Kam Lake near the jail, where it was shot and killed.

Because it was on the edge of town, Bourget said there was a public safety concern.

"If it felt cornered, it definitely would have attacked."

The bear was to be examined by biologists to determine if it suffered from illness or injury.