Wildlife officers have killed two out of five bears tracked in Yellowknife on Friday, officials said, describing the move as “the last option.”
The Department of Environment and Climate Change at one point believed six bears were in the city, but revised that number down to five on Friday evening.
“With wildfires, they are displaced from their regular habitat, and with dry conditions, there are less berries to eat – leading them to look for food in town,” a departmental spokesperson stated by email.
Shortly before 2pm, the department said two of the bears “had to be euthanized.”
A spokesperson said killing the bears “is the last option when bears come into communities, but is necessary in cases where there are imminent threats to public safety.”
“In this case,” they added, “the two bears that were euthanized were posing a threat to public safety, with one reported to have been attempting to break into a home.”
The sow and cub spotted in the city earlier on Friday were listed as being among the “remaining bears,” and ECC said wildlife officers would look to scare away or trap and relocate those bears if possible.
The department urged residents to be especially careful, keep their distance and call their local office if a bear is spotted.
At Niven Lake, a cub was seen swimming in the lake and on the adjacent trail earlier on Friday morning. While area ducks appeared surprisingly unperturbed, residents were told to take care.
Other reports suggested the presence of a bear in the neighbourhood of Kasteel Drive and Gwilliam Crescent. Locations of other bears were not immediately confirmed.
While wildfire activity in the area may be pushing wildlife away from normal habitats and into urban areas, bears are not uncommon around Yellowknife.