The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has announced the closure of several alpine trails after two confirmed grizzly bear encounters in the area.
The RMOW said in a release Thursday, Sept. 13 that the Skywalk, Kevin’s Homerun, Screaming Cat Lake and Upper 19 Mile Creek trails have been closed until further notice.
Done in consultation with the Conservation Officer Service (COS), the provincial Ministry of Forests and local biologists, the closure comes after two reported instances of human-bear conflict and a confirmed grizzly bear in the area.The RMOW said the closures are intended to reduce the likelihood of injury caused by conflict with this grizzly, to allow the bear to travel freely through its natural feeding area, and prevent the bear from becoming habituated to people and conditioned to human food sources.
"Grizzly bears are extremely sensitive to human presence. They can detect people from kilometres away and alter their behaviours," the RMOW said in the release. "This puts increased pressure on these bears, and complicates efforts to gain enough weight, prior to denning."
The closures will continue until further notice, but are intended to remain in place until bears go to den for the winter, the RMOW said.
The flank trails will remain open for now, but the COS is urging the public to use caution, as grizzly bears have very large natural ranges and may be in the area.
The public should be vigilant and carry bear spray when possible. Dogs should also be kept on leash. "It's the law and helps to prevent potentially dangerous conflicts with wildlife," the release states.
For more information on proper bear practices, visit bearsmart.com/bear-smart-whistler.