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Bear briefly becomes armed after stealing camper's gun in Boundary Waters

The main motivation for the theft was snacks, rather than weaponry.

A bear ran off into the woods with a northern Minnesota camper's handgun last week.

Here's the lowdown on the bizarre situation from the DNR's weekly conservation officer reports, courtesy of CO Mary Manning.

Manning said she was working the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness with a U.S. Forest Service officer for a few days last week, when the pair received a call: A "report of an armed bear in the BWCA."

Related: DNR: Property owner complains about black bear, but refuses to take down bird feeders

Apparently, the camper had a handgun and "several delicious-smelling snacks" in a backpack. The bear managed to steal the full pack from a portage landing, and ran off with it into the woods. The campers weren't able to track the bear, and officers responded.

They searched the area and eventually found the pack — partially shredded, Manning wrote, with "numerous empty snack wrappers." 

Also in the backpack: The gun, which was described as "undamaged."

Dry conditions throughout much of the state have impacted black bears' natural food sources this summer, and may continue to do so in the future. This can increase the chance of human-bear conflicts as the animals search for sustenance.

Anyone visiting or living in bear country should make an effort to reduce attractants, the Minnesota DNR says, with bear project leader Andrew Tri noting it "only takes one or two food rewards for a bear to remember that your home or cabin is a place where an easy meal can be had."

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