Over the past week, the Grand Rapids Police Department, Itasca County Sheriff’s Department and the Minnesota DNR have received citizen reports of bear sightings. Reports came from residents in the area of the Itasca County Fairgrounds, Portage Park in Cohasset and Airport Road and 21st Street in southeast Grand Rapids. In each case, the bears returned back to wooded areas.
“Please don’t leave garbage cans outside, secure the lids on garbage dumpsters and don’t leave pet food outside” said Grand Rapids Assistant Police Chief Steve Schaar. “Bear sightings are not unusual in the northern part of the state. This is the time of the year bears are searching for food sources prior to hibernation.”
Bears are part of our natural wildlife and the DNR encourages people to leave the bears alone as they usually want nothing to do with people.
See bears, page 8
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As GRPD Chief Scott Johnson explained, the DNR says, “If it is on the edge of town we will try to drive it back into the woods…if in town in an urban area and is a public safety issue, the local law enforcement can shoot it.”
Black Bear Do’s and Don’ts:
Black bears are becoming increasingly common as the population continues to grow and expand. Reports of bear sightings, even in heavily populated residential areas, have been on the rise. The primary contributing factor to bear nuisance problems is the presence of easily-accessible food sources near homes and businesses. Fed bears can become habituated and lose their fear of humans. Bears should NEVER be fed, either intentionally or accidentally. Residents should take the following simple steps to avoid conflicts and problems with black bears:
BEARS NEAR YOUR HOME
Bears are attracted to garbage, pet food, compost piles, fruit trees, and birdfeeders.
DO remove birdfeeders and bird food from late March through November.
DO eliminate food attractants by placing garbage cans inside a garage or shed. Add ammonia to trash to make it unpalatable.
DO clean and store grills in a garage or shed after use. (Propane cylinders should be stored outside.)
DON’T intentionally feed bears. Bears that become accustomed to finding food near your home may become “problem” bears.
DON’T approach or try to get closer to a bear to get a photo or video.
DON’T leave pet food outside overnight.
DON’T add meat or sweets to a compost pile.
BEARS SEEN WHEN HIKING OR CAMPING
Bears in natural settings normally leave an area once they have sensed a human. If you see a bear, enjoy it from a distance. Aggression by bears towards humans is exceptionally rare.
DO make your presence known by making noise while hiking. Hike in groups. If you see a bear, make noise and wave your arms so the bear is aware of your presence.
DO keep dogs on a leash and under control. A roaming dog might be perceived as a threat to a bear or its cubs.
DO back away slowly if you surprise a bear nearby.
DON’T approach or try to get close to a bear to get a photo or video.
DON’T run or climb a tree. If possible, wait in a vehicle or building until the bear leaves the area.
DO be offensive if the bear approaches you. Make more noise, wave your arms, and throw objects at the bear. Black bears rarely attack humans. If you are attacked, do not play dead. Fight back with anything available.
DON’T cook food near your tent or store food inside your tent. Instead, keep food in a secure vehicle or use rope to suspend it between two trees.
BEARS, LIVESTOCK, AND BEEHIVES
Bears occasionally attack livestock (chickens, goats, etc.) and damage beehives.
DO protect livestock with electric fencing and move livestock into barns at night if possible.
DO reinforce beehives to prevent them from being knocked over or protect them with electric fencing.
WHEN BEARS COME TO VISIT
If a bear is seen in your town or neighborhood, leave it alone. In most situations, if left alone and given an avenue for escape, the bear will usually wander back into more secluded areas. Keep dogs under control. Stay away from the bear and advise others to do the same. Do not approach the bear so as to take a photo or video. Often a bear will climb a tree to avoid people. A crowd of bystanders will only stress the bear and also add the risk that the bear will be chased into traffic or the crowd of people.
If a bear is found to be a nusiance in a residential area, call law enforcement or the DNR: