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More 'bear-human conflicts' in Minnesota due to natural food shortage

If you're camping, pack some bear spray just in case.

Bears in northeastern and north-central Minnesota are hungry and the result could be more encounters with humans. 

That's the word from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which announced Monday that a "shortage of natural foods is causing more bear-human conflicts" in those parts of the state. 

The DNR said bears are gravitating towards food sources at homes, cabins and campsites. Black bears are the only bear species in Minnesota, and while typically shy, the DNR warns that they can become "bolder" when natural food sources are in short supply. 

That's the case right now due to dry conditions in north-central and northeastern Minnesota. 

"If bears are in the area, let your neighbors, homeowners association or lake-owners association and fellow campers know about it so everybody keeps potential attractants away from bears," said Andrew Tri, a bear biologist with the DNR. "Together, we can reduce conflicts with bears and avoid teaching them bad habits."

To help keep black bears away, people should remove food sources that attract them. Attractants include garbage, birdseed and food stored in coolers. 

“It’s important that folks be extra vigilant in keeping trash and birdseed away from bears to ensure they don’t get an easy meal from what people leave out," said Tri. 

The DNR advises that trash cans be locked inside a shed or garage, and metal dumpsters be locked shut. Bird feeders should be taken down until mid-November, and any seed spilled on the ground should be cleaned up. It takes just one person feeding birds to keep bears in the area, the DNR warns. 

Campers should keep food locked in vehicles or bear-resistant cases, properly dispose of all trash and to have bear spray on-hand just in case.

And this probably doesn't need to be said, but the DNR also advises people to avoid approaching or trying to pet a bear. Again, don't try to pet a bear. 

Bring Me The News has requested more information from the DNR to find out if there have been any recent close encounters between bears and humans in northern Minnesota as a result of the food shortage. 

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