The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail has reopened after biologists shot a black bear that ransacked food in a cabin last week — but officials are warning of a second bear still in the area.
A Monday statement from the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park near Skagway said that the closure within Parks Canada's Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site, which went into effect Tuesday, had been lifted Sunday.
"A bear incident of this nature is unprecedented on the Chilkoot Trail for both Parks Canada and the National Park Service," NPS officials wrote. "Both agencies take measures to protect staff food stores as a vital precaution for wild animals."
The closure was prompted by a black bear that broke into Parks Canada's Lindeman City staff camp on June 20, obtaining a "significant food reward" after damaging a refrigerator and cupboards. Two days later, park officials shot a bear believed to be the same animal.
"Parks Canada Bear Management Teams, with assistance from Yukon Conservation Officers, were deployed and shot one black bear at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday," NPS officials wrote. "The team continued to monitor the area and observed a second black bear exhibiting food-conditioned behavior in the Lindeman Camp area."
Parks Canada spokeswoman Elise Maltinsky didn't have immediate word from park rangers on any link between the shot black bear and the one still roaming along the trail, what behaviors the second bear had displayed, or where it had last been seen.
"It's in the area," Maltinsky said. "Right now, we're just monitoring the situation."
Parks Canada said three campgrounds — Deep Lake, Lindeman and Bare Loon — had been closed effective Saturday. Those closures, as well as a prohibition on dogs traveling along trails from Happy Camp to Bennett Lake, will remain in effect "until further notice."
"All hiking parties must travel in a minimum group size of four adults," Parks Canada officials wrote. "The hiking party must carry bear spray with them at all times within the restricted area."
Maltinsky said the hiking restrictions were set in accordance with common procedures to deter wilderness encounters with bears.
"Dogs can make things more of an issue (during bear encounters), and the group size of four adults is pretty accepted behavior in bear country," Maltinsky said.
The National Park Service apologized to visitors who had planned to hike the 35-mile-long trail, retracing Gold Rush miners' route from Dyea near Skagway to Bennett, British Columbia.
"Hikers may contact the Trail Center in Skagway at 907-983-9234 or the reservation desk at 1-800-661-0486 to manage rescheduling, cancellations and refunds," NPS officials wrote.