Bear chases child near Whitehorse before mom intercepts, say conservation officers

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Yukon conservation officers say they were called to a rural property on Takhini Hot Springs Road on Sunday. A child had been chased by a black bear before the boy's mother got between them, and the family dog chased the animal away. (Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press)

Yukon conservation officers are patrolling after a black bear chased a child near Whitehorse last weekend, forcing the child's mom to jump between her son and the animal.

Officers were called to a rural property on Takhini Hot Springs Road around 4 p.m. on Sunday.

A child was playing in his yard when he saw a juvenile bear, a statement said. The child yelled and ran toward his mother, it said.

"The bear chased the child until the mother was able to intercept and get between the bear and her child," said the statement from Conservation Officer Services.

The family dog chased the bear away, the statement said, allowing the mother and child to get into the house.

No sign of bear

Conservation officers searched the area but there's been no sign of the bear, said Heather Avery, communications specialist with Yukon's Environment department.

Officers continue to patrol and have set up a trap on the property, she said.

"There are a lot of bears out right now," said Avery, adding the animals are currently foraging.

"We ask that people stay away from them and give them their space."

Avery said they will hold a bear safety information session for nearby residents on Monday night. Over the next few weeks, there will also be online sessions for the general public with a special focus on child safety.

Carry bear spray, Avery said, and know how to use it. If you do see a bear, call the tip line at 1-800-661-0525, she said.

"Predatory attacks by bears are rare, but it's a reminder that bear conflicts can happen anywhere in Yukon," said the statement from Conservation Officer Services.

"Bears that have been habituated to the presence of humans may act in a manner that is more bold."

After the incident, neighbours were warned to keep children close, carry bear spray and secure livestock.