New Grizzly bear Counts
a Necessity

BEAR COUNT YUKON: after 35 years outdated,
we urgently need new Grizzly bear counts.

Since 2018, Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos; also known as Brown bears) in Western Canada are listed under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) as a species of Special Concern.

In the following months, the Yukon Government and the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board developed a Grizzly bear conservation draft plan aiming to protect the Grizzly bear population in Yukon. From this conservation plan, the crucial key recommendation is to obtain a new biological estimate of the Grizzly bear population. This estimate will be essential to develop an effective management strategy for the conservation of Grizzly bear in Yukon.

In fact, the last assessment done in the 1980s, based on indirect measures, estimated that 6 000 to 7 000 Grizzly bears inhabit the entire Yukon.

I propose to update and provide a scientifically reliable estimate of the population size of Grizzly and Black bears in specific areas in Yukon by using a non-invasive DNA-based method relying on fecal samples. This project would be community-based by involving volunteers to sample bear scat. The DNA extracted from the fecal samples would then be analyzed using a new technology called Genotyping in Thousands by sequencing in order to determine individual identities.

This cost-effective monitoring strategy has as a final objective to obtain a direct scientific measure of the population size of bears in the Yukon that would be crucial to further determine preferential bear habitat, create protected areas, and minimize human/bear conflicts.

Lucile Fressigne,  PhD, Board member Grizzly Bear Protection Yukon Society