If you see a bear, it's best to leave it alone.
That's the message the Ely Police Department is sending after a bear caused a scene in Whiteside Park Wednesday evening.
According to the department's Facebook post, at about 7 p.m. Wednesday, officers were dispatched to a bear in a tree at the park.
"This event was causing a traffic hazard due to vehicles stopping in the roadway. Additionally, people would approach the tree to take photographs," the post said.
Officers taped off the area and Lake County Sheriff's Office and Ely Public Works assisted in traffic control.
The bear, a short time later, climbed down the tree and left the park.
But the situation wasn't over. Police say they got a call that children followed the bear, causing it to climb another tree. Eventually, the bear climbed down and left the area.
"A good lesson here is to leave the bear alone and watch from a distance. This will keep everyone safe," the post said.
The bear in this situation appeared young, but wasn't a cub, Ely Police Chief Chad Houde told BMTN. No one was injured and no damage was caused by the bear.
Ely is in the heart of Minnesota's black bear country, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which includes the northern third of the state.
The city gets occasional visits from bears, but "it is rare for a bear to be in the middle of town during the day," Houde said.
Usually, they'll see bears in the spring when they're coming out of hibernation and are searching for food. They'll stick toward the outskirts of town or are spotted in town at night.
"There was one other bear call earlier this summer of a large black bear walking through Whiteside Park. On that call, the bear quickly walked through town and went back into the woods," Houde said.
Black bears – Minnesota's only species of bear – often spend their time in areas of dense cover, like forests and swamps, but will venture into clearings and farther south, outside of their typical range, when looking for food, the Minnesota DNR says. In fact, black bears have been spotted in Litchfield and downtown St. Paul this spring and summer.
There are roughly 12,000-15,000 black bears in Minnesota, the DNR says.