We believe that bears should live unthreatened in their natural habitats throughout their lives.
Yukoners and visitors should be able to watch bears in the great outdoors versus ending their lives for sport & recreation.
We will be a voice for protection through our website, social media, management planning, policies and the Yukon Wildlife Act.
We will monitor all research on bear populations and habitats and maintain sustainability records.
Grizzly News in North America will be posted relative to our mission goals.
Press releases and public presentations will be shown on our website.
We will educate and inform the public on how to coexist with bears and change relationships from predator to neighbour.
We will support the First Nations perspective of respect for bears, known as “the other humans”.
Grizzly bears are the supreme symbol of wilderness in North America. Yukon indigenous people profoundly respect Grizzly bears, and they see bears as our equals. Yukon indigenous people use an honorific term or a familiar name (such as grandfather, brother, cousin) to speak about bears, and they do not imply human superiority over bears.
Historically Grizzly bears were widespread throughout North America, ranging from the Arctic Ocean to central Mexico, and from the Pacific Ocean to the Mississippi River. Presently, they no longer inhabit half of their historical range. As agriculture started to take over the world, the mystical relationship between humans and bears started to diminish. This is when Grizzly bears started to be relentlessly persecuted for entertainment, trophy hunting, ranching, farming, mining, and oil, which resulted in entire populations being decimated in North America and Europe.
Since June 2018, Grizzly bears in Western Canada are listed under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) as a species of Special Concern. But still trophy hunting is legal in Yukon, with more than a thousand hunting tags sold each year. The Yukon and the Northwest Territories are the only places in Canada where Grizzly bears can still be hunted. Trophy hunters, coming from all over the world, continue to take our generally gentle giants, who seldom attack unless they feel threatened.
In Yukon, it is illegal to hunt cubs and sows with cubs. yet, between 2016 and 2020, 14.2% of hunted Grizzly bears were cubs (data obtained from YTG), and 24.8% of female Grizzly bears were hunted with 48% of them being considered sexually mature. Sexually mature female Grizzly bears are either accompanied by cubs that they hide for their protection (hunters might not see them) or they internally carry the future generation. Hunting sexually mature female bears and cubs is detrimental to the survival of the species, and this is a real problem in Yukon.
Grizzly bears are highly vulnerable to habitat changes, and they are being increasingly displaced by human settlement. Being the slowest land mammal in North America to reproduce, they demonstrate a low resilience to human-related mortality factors; female Yukon Grizzlies mature at 7-9 years of age, have small litter sizes (1 to 3 cubs), have long intervals between cub births (3 to 5 years) and the survival rate for cubs is low. Add to these challenges climate change impacts and road kills, and you have a species that is struggling to survive.
Since it is difficult and expensive to study bear populations, few field studies on their abundance have been done in Yukon. The number of Grizzly bears in Yukon is estimated at 6,000–7,000 bears; however, the real number is unknown. This estimate was derived in the 1990s, based on biologists’ understanding of how many Grizzly bears could be supported in various regions of Yukon.
Yukon needs to focus on scientific assessment of the Grizzly bear populations. In the meantime, Yukon needs to protect the uncertain number of Grizzly bears left roaming the Territory, like Alberta and British Columbia did. If we lose the Grizzly bear and other bear species, we will not only lose a number of other species and habitat along the way, but a major part of Yukon’s and North America’s story.
Grizzly Bear Protection Yukon Society supports the following guiding principles of the Yukon Grizzly Bear Conservation and Management Plan.
Work carried out to conserve grizzly bears in Yukon must recognize and respect that:
- grizzly bears have an intrinsic value;
- grizzly bears are an important part of Yukon ecosystems, and require large intact landscapes;
- grizzly bear conservation must be informed
by the diverse Indigenous cultural values and relationships between people and grizzly bears, respect Indigenous rights and traditional laws, and be carried out in accordance with land claim agreements, where established;
- grizzly bear conservation largely requires addressing or modifying human behaviours and actions towards bears and their habitat;
- grizzly bear conservation requires all governments, relevant boards and councils, industry, organizations, communities and individuals to work together;
- grizzly bear conservation needs to be informed by, and based on, multiple sources of knowledge;
- grizzly bear conservation needs to be adaptive to new information; and
- grizzly bear conservation needs to abide by the precautionary principle—proposing actions to avoid impacts on grizzly bears even in the absence of perfect knowledge (see Section C for further discussion).
Yukon Grizzly Bear Conservation and Management Plan Working Group. 2019. A conservation plan for grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) in Yukon. Government of Yukon, Department of Environment. Whitehorse, Yukon: 14