The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail has reopened after two weeks of closures and restrictions following bear-related incidents.
A black bear broke into a Parks Canada cabin at Lindeman Lake on the afternoon of Monday, June 20. The bear gained access to a large quantity of processed human food by raiding the cabinets and the refrigerator.
As food-habituated bears pose a serious threat to humans, Parks Canada decided to close down the Canadian portion of the Chilkoot Trail while they tracked down and killed the bear thought to be responsible for the break-in. Portions of the trail were reopened with restrictions on Sunday, June 26 once Parks Canada felt confident they had dealt with the correct bear.
As a precautionary measure, Parks Canada set up camera traps around the Lindeman Lake cabin to ensure the situation had been completely resolved and that there weren’t any other bears that exhibited the same behavior.
The following evening, a second bear was filmed on the traps trying to gain entrance to the cabin. Parks Canada sought out the additional bear and killed it.
By June 30, Parks Canada reopened all campgrounds with the travel restrictions that mandated all hiking parties travel in groups of four or larger, required every hiker must carry bear spray with them and banned the presence of dogs on the trail.
Parks Canada lifted the restrictions and reopened all campgrounds on the Chilkoot National Historical Site on July 5. Parks Canada did not respond to requests for comment.
“All restrictions are lifted, so it’s back to the rules that apply normally, such as having a permit to hike, camping in designated areas only, dogs are allowed as long as they’re on a leash,” Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Superintendent Mike Tranel said.
Tranel advised hikers to remain alert on the trail.
“The usual precautions for bears certainly applies,” Tranel said. “Bear spray is obviously a good thing to have with you, and then the main thing is that we want to make sure that bears don’t associate people with food.”
While those two food-habituated bears have been dealt with, that doesn’t mean hikers should not take every precaution to deal with food in a safe manner around campsites.
“There’s the bear-proof food lockers in all of the campgrounds, except for a few that don’t have them, then there are poles where you can hang it,” Tranel said. “The thing that people tend to forget during the daytime is don’t set your pack down and leave it unattended. That’s how bears get into it, and then once they get food out of a backpack they make the connection that all backpacks have food in them.”
All parts of the Chilkoot Trail are open to hikers now except for the side trail used to explore the Canyon City ruins, which has been closed down due to an unrelated incident.
“There was a hiker who crossed the bridge and found it to be very unstable,” Tranel said. “They contacted the backcountry ranger, and she reported it to us.”
Tranel said the bridge is intact and does not pose a serious threat to anyone.
“There are several cables that hold the bridge up and one of them was broken, but that doesn’t mean the bridge fell down or anything like that or that there were people in serious danger,” Tranel said. “It was just a part of the bridge that needed to be repaired, so we closed down the bridge to not put anyone at risk.”
A repair crew is scheduled to replace the broken tension wire on Friday once they’ve received a replacement part. The bridge should be reopened by the end of the day Friday.