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Social media makes us more bear aware

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There have been numerous black bear sightings around the Twin Cities this spring, but that doesn't mean there are more bears invading the metro.

The most recent reported bear sighting was Monday morning in Scandia, about 25 miles northeast of St. Paul. Robert Wilmers told FOX 9 that he spotted a pair of black bears (pictured) just 10 feet from his window.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says bear sightings around the Twin Cities are not uncommon, especially in the spring when animals are coming out of hibernation. And, although it may seem like there are more bears wandering around the metro this year, the DNR says there aren't – the bears are just being talked about more.

Social media has made people more bear aware, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Central Region Wildlife Manager Cynthia Osmundson told MPR News.

"We always get some bears coming through the Twin Cities every year," she said. "Nothing really unusual is going on."

The DNR notes that bears are usually wary of people and won't typically go to densely populated areas, but if a bear does show up inside the Interstate 494/694 loop, they're considered a threat to public safety. Officials say that if someone spots a bear, they should keep their distance and call 911 right away to report the animal's location.

Local officials will determine if the bear is a threat, and if it is, they'll likely shoot and kill the animal, the DNR says. That's what happened with a black bear that was spotted in West St. Paul over the weekend. Police say the animal was likely the same bear that had been hanging around the metro for the last few weeks.

DNR Capt. Greg Salo said in a news release that the DNR typically doesn't tranquilize and relocate a problematic bear for a number of reasons. Most DNR staff are not certified in using tranquilizers and the DNR doesn't keep the equipment on hand.

Salo also says that if a tranquilizer is used, relocation rarely works because bears become used to human food and if they are relocated, they'll just wander into other cities in search of it.

Last week, officials sought the help of a local veterinarian to tranquilize and relocate a bear that was spotted sleeping near Bemidji State University. Officials told the Bemidji Pioneer that in this instance the bear wasn't considered a nuisance – it had just found shelter where it could.

Nuisance bears have become less of a problem in recent years because the DNR has been educating the public on how to avoid attracting bears. Last year, 25 bears in Minnesota were killed because they were deemed a public nuisance or danger. By comparison, nearly 400 bears were killed for the same reason in 1985, MPR notes.

There have been some unique bear sightings around the country this spring – especially this Florida bear that stopped to take a break in a family's hammock.

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