A female grizzly bear that caused some panic in Kugluktuk on July 8 was harvested by a hunter as it left the community.

The bear, estimated to be between three and four years of age, came into Kugluktuk from the northeast end of town — possibly swimming across the river. It ran along some roads and then made its way across the fields towards the airport around 10:15 p.m., according to conservation officer Allen Niptanatiak.

There was immediate alarm circulating on social media.

Because the hunter pursued the bear out of town, it’s not considered a defence kill.

“The grizzly bear was skinny due to summer months and living on its own for the first time,” he said, adding that it’s probable that the bear’s mother chased the young female away during the fall mating season, and that the bear had been fending for itself since then.

The hunter kept the animal’s hide but the meat was disposed of because it wasn’t suitable for consumption, Niptanatiak noted.

The bear’s head and various samples were dropped off at Kugluktuk’s wildlife office for age and DNA analysis.

There’s no indication that this particular bear had ever come into the community previously, but Kugluktuk residents are accustomed to occasional sightings of the predators, sometimes closer than desired.

Larry Adjun, chair of the Kugluktuk Hunters and Trappers Organization (KHTO), said he wasn’t familiar with all the details in the latest incident but he heard the bear was shot within half an hour of it being in town.

It’s more common for young male bears to venture into the community, he noted. Any bear encounter raises the possibility of harm to human life.

“We don’t have a curfew here for young kids to go home, so there are kids out and about at the wee hours of the day,” Adjun said.

Amanda Dumond, the KHTO’s manager, said she lives about 10 kilometres outside of Kugluktuk but it seems more common for bears to enter the community than to come near her place.

“It was probably just passing by. There’s been a few of those who are passing by and town is in their way. We’re on their land, right? To them there’s no boundaries,” she said.

However, like Adjun, she said there’s apprehension over residents’ safety when a bear wanders into the community.

“Kids are playing out. People are out and about doing their own thing, walking. So yeah, it is a concern,” she said.

While there are limits on harvesting caribou and muskox, there is no restriction in the number of grizzly bears that beneficiaries can hunt, Dumond noted.

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