Status: Ongoing

Congdon Creek Campground is an important seasonal recreational site located on the shores of Kluane Lake and operated by Yukon Parks. The site has a prior history of conflicts between campers and grizzly bears because it was built in prime bear habitat. The Congdon Creek valley and the delta where it joins Kluane Lake are natural travel corridors and host abundant bear foods. Since 2013 my students and I, in collaboration with Yukon Parks, have been testing various measures to reduce conflict between bears and campers in the area. This has primarily involved removing natural bear attractants (the flowering legumes and soapberry bushes that they feed upon). To evaluate the success of this type of trial we would hope to see an absence of conflicts. However, critics could justly interpret the negative response as simply an absence of bears in the area. To address this concern, I have been collecting hair samples left by bears using rub trees near the campground perimeter. In 2023 I hope to obtain DNA analysis of 35 hair samples collected between 2017 and 2023. This would allow me to identify the number of different individual bears visiting the study area. If bears are still moving through the area, but conflicts have been reduced, it would strengthen the conclusion that the habitat manipulation trial is being successful.

Partners and funders

YukonU Scholarly Activity Grant