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World's oldest known bear dies in northern Minnesota

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A female black bear being monitored in northern Minnesota died at the age of 39 and 1/2, outliving any radio-collared bear of any species in the world.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says the bear, or "Bear No. 56," was radio collared in 1981 at the age of 7 as part of a long-term research project.

Bear No. 56 produced eight litters of cubs between 1981 and 1995 and successfully reared 21 of the 22 cubs to 1 and 1/2 years old. She gave birth to one more litter in 1997, where two of three cubs died, and raised her last cub in 1999 at the age of 25.

In February, the Duluth News Tribune accompanied by DNR researchers captured video of Bear No. 56 in her den near Marcell, Minn. in Itasca County.

The DNR says sometime in July Bear No. 56 left her normal home range, which is typical for bears in late summer to explore food sources in preparation for winter. DNR bear researcher Karen Noyce found the decomposed body of Bear No. 56 in a secluded wooded location.

“This is the first bear in our study to die of old age, and there is something satisfying in that,” said Noyce in a news release. "After following her all these years, I’m glad to know she died peacefully. It was a fitting death for a fine old bear.”

The second-oldest bear in the world was a brown bear that live to 34.

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