Tourists rescued after bear destroys canoe

A map depicting Hanbury Lake in relation to Great Slave Lake and Yellowknife. (Retrieved from HERE WeGo).

Two American tourists were left stranded on Sunday after a grizzly bear destroyed their canoe.

The couple were on a canoe trip in the area of Hanbury Lake, about 480 kilometres east of Yellowknife. They radioed the International Emergency Response Coordination Centre (IERCC), a global search and rescue dispatch centre.

The centre then contacted Yellowknife RCMP about the couple. As they waited, they managed to stay clear of the bear until they were picked up by Environment and Natural Resources officers in a helicopter on Monday, July 15.

According to a police news release, the bear was still “on site and continuing to threaten the campers” when the ENR officers arrived. The officers then killed the bear and rescued the campers.

“The travellers were well prepared and had planned to bring a communication device with them on their trip, which definitely helped them with their misadventure. We can’t stress enough the importance to be prepared when venturing in the wilderness as anything can happen, like wildlife encounter,” said Staff Sergeant Yannick Hamel, Operations Manager for Yellowknife RCMP.

CKLB has reached out to both RCMP and ENR to ask why the campers were rescued a day later than their original call.

In an email, RCMP media relations said, “Yellowknife RCMP received the information about the stranded travellers from the EIRCC close to midnight, on Sunday, July 14. Because of flying restrictions at night and the remote location of the stranded travellers, Yellowknife RCMP could not proceed with the extraction right away. While coordinating the rescue operation, RCMP officers confirmed that the couple didn’t sustained injuries and had managed to shelter away from the bear threat while waiting for rescue.”

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis was a reporter with CKLB from January 2019 to March 2023. In his time with CKLB, he had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures.