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

A lesson in what not to do if a black bear comes into your yard.

If you want to live in northeast Minnesota, coexisting with black bears is essentially a prerequisite. That means taking steps to reduce the chance of a hungry bear wandering into your yard by getting rid of unsecured attractants — that's agency speak for things like bird feeders, garbage cans and other human-provided food sources.

One Minnesota property owner, however, wasn't having it.

DNR Conservation Officer Kylan Hill, who covers the Tofte area, recently got a call about a "bear problem," according to the latest weekly reports. This person wanted the bear gone, but refused to remove the bird feeders they had up.

They instead "wished the DNR would come and trap the bear and move it elsewhere," Hill wrote.

He concluded: "Hill has not heard from the person but if the feeders are still up Hill assumes the bear is still around."

Related: Black bear rescued from storm sewer in Oak Park Heights

Dry conditions throughout much of the state have impacted black bears' natural food sources in recent weeks, and may continue to do so in the future. This can increase the chance of human-bear conflicts as the animals push into populated areas in search of some sustenance.

Putting away these tasty food sources is vital, Andrew Tri, bear project leader with the Minnesota DNR, told Bring Me The News. That includes "anything a bear might consider food such as birdseed, trash, hummingbird nectar, grills or their grease traps, etc."

"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," he continued, noting it's far easier to remove these things early than deal with the consequences of a bear that equates human dwellings and food."

Tri said the agency has received 169 bear complaints from May 1 to June 30 this year. That's actually well behind recent years, with 2020 (196 complaints), 2019 (239 complaints) and 2018 (222 complaints) all seeing higher numbers during the same period, though Tri noted 2021 numbers may be slightly behind the actual count due to reporting delays from area staff.

There had been some concern about drought and a late May killing frost significantly impacting berry availability for black bears this summer, and Tri said it's still too early to know for sure.

Wild sarsaparilla, the first berries bears will feast on, are just ripening in the north-central portion of the state, he said, and "seem to be in good shape," he said. Raspberries are a "mixed bag," cherries are average to below average and blueberries are still TBD.

"All of the aforementioned foods don’t really show up until we get into July, so time will tell if things are as bad as I had feared," Tri said.

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