MN DNR Concerned by Aggressive Bears

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is urging caution over recent incidents of aggressive or threatening behavior by black bears in the Ely, MN area.

In a media release posted yesterday, HERE, the agency said a collared bear at Bear Head Lake State Park approached occupied vehicles and put its front paws on vehicles, another collared bear came within three feet of a two-year-old child near the open door of a vehicle, and a homeowner killed a non-collared bear that refused to leave the homeowner’s porch.

The DNR urges the public in the Ely area not to feed bears, an activity that can cause the animals to become fearless of people. Home and cabin owners can reduce bear problems by reducing garbage can odors, removing bird feeders and keeping pet food inside. If approached by a bear, one should back away slowly and try to go indoors and wait for the bear to leave. If a bear refuses to leave, making loud noises and throwing an object to scare it away is recommended. One should always allow the bear an escape route.

The DNR said that some of the collared bears involved in the incidents are part of research being conducted by Dr. Lynn Rogers of the North American Bear Center and some that are not. Accroding to the media statement, DNR officials have asked for Dr. Rogers’ assistance in preventing the bear-human conflicts involving collared bears. The DNR said it has informed Rogers that under DNR policy, bears that pose a threat to public safety can be destroyed by local enforcement authorities.

In a news update on the Wildlife Research Institute web site, HERE, Rogers and research colleague Sue Mansfield noted that no humans have been harmed or endangered in the incidents. They said that a meeting yesterday with DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr was encouraging but noted that some of the issues the DNR has with their research could restrict the use of den cams and radio collars.

Hunters participating in Minnesota’s bear season, which opens Thursday, are asked to avoid shooting radio-collared research bears. The bears are marked with large colorful ear tags or colorful streamers.

DNR researchers are monitoring about 35 radio-collared black bears, most of them in northwestern Minnesota. Additional radio-collared bears reside in and around the Chippewa National Forest, Camp Ripley, Cloquet Forestry Station and Voyageurs National Park. Rogers’ bear research also is being conducted between Ely and Tower near the Eagles Nest chain of lakes in northern St. Louis County.

“Hunters near these areas should be especially vigilant for these valuable research bears,” Dave Garshelis, DNR bear research biologist, said in THIS media release. “These animals provide long-term data on reproduction and habitat use that is invaluable for bear management across the state.”

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