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Black bear rescued from storm sewer in Oak Park Heights

Police were originally called to the scene because someone thought a large dog was trapped in the sewer.

Police in Oak Park Heights rescued a black bar that was stuck in a sewer on Sunday. 

Initially, it was reported that a possible large dog was stuck in the storm sewer drain in the area of 57th Street North and Peller Avenue North. But when police arrived they found a medium-sized bear sitting directly under the sewer grate, Police Chief Steve Hansen told Bring Me The News on Tuesday. 

Crews removed "several" sewer grates and water was flushed into the system, which "encouraged the young bear to exit without incident," Hansen said. 

The bear, which was estimated to be 2 years old, "crawled out and left promptly" toward the nearby wooded area. 

Minnesota DNR Conservation Officer Chris Tetrault and the Bayport Fire Department also responded to the scene to help with rescue efforts. Tetrault in his weekly report said, "The bear was a couple years old and was a pretty good size. The bear was freed without any issues."

Related: Why conditions in Minnesota are ripe for more bear-human conflicts

Hansen noted this was the second bear-related report within the Oak Park Heights area with the past couple of weeks, so public works crews will be posting additional signage along the trails and parks, to warn about black bears in the area. 

Black Bears are the only species of bear in Minnesota, according to the DNR, with roughly 12,000-15,000 in the state. While they generally live in forests and swampy areas to the north, their range has been expanding to the south and west — and they do sometimes amble into more populated cities and towns. They are generally cautious around humans.

They're usually wary of humans, but will happily feed on treats humans leave out and available, particularly if conditions mean there is a shortage of natural food available — as has been the case recently.

The DNR has some guidelines for safely coexisting with bears here.

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