Grizzly threat in the Yukon

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

The Associated Press reported this week that a 30-mile stretch of the Firth River that was closed to paddlers last week because of the threat of grizzly bears has been reopened.

The section was opened Monday, Ron Larsen, chief park warden in Ivvavik National Park, told AP.

The Firth River begins in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, but is not navigable until Margaret Lake in the Yukon’s Ivvavik Park. From there, the river descends 80 miles northeast to the Arctic Ocean at Nunaluk Spit.

The section beginning at Sheep Creek was closed after 19 grizzlies were found feeding on 22 caribou carcasses in the area.

Earlier this month, caribou were crossing the Firth River, which had unusually high water levels, leaving 22 dead. On July 9, park wardens counted the 19 grizzlies feeding on the caribou and closed the river to paddlers.

Larsen said Ivvavik staff flew over the area on Friday and couldn’t locate bears in the area. On Sunday, two wardens began rafting down the closed section of the river. Larsen said the wardens sent a message that three caribou carcasses remained but the bears had left.

Last Friday, Larsen said it could be seven to 10 days before the river was reopened to paddlers.

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