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Beware of black bears - they're awake and hungry

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Black bears have been making their way out of hibernation and into residents' backyards lately.

Many Minnesotans from Brainerd to Winona have experienced encounters with black bears this past month.

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Cheri Zeppelin from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources told BringMeTheNews that bear sightings are common right now in the state's forested areas.

"Bears have been out of their dens for a while, but their natural food sources are not yet abundant so it is common for them to travel in search of food," she said.

Sighting Summaries

A small black bear wandered in and then out of a backyard in Winona on Friday, said the Winona Daily News.

A DNR officer and Fillmore County Sheriff deputy simultaneously shot a 200-pound male black bear in Chatfield (outside of Rochester) after it became aggressive toward authorities.

The DNR says that they no longer tranquilize wild animals in certain situations because sometimes they can escape and pose a danger to the public with medication in their system, according to the Fillmore County Journal.

Another bear caused a stir on a farm outside of Richville, according to agweek.

In the past month, the Brainerd Dispatch has reported on numerous black bear sightings in the area:

  • One was seen eating out of a bird feeder in Nisswa
  • Another was tranquilized in Detroit Lakes after adventuring too close to an elementary school.
  • There was a string of bear sightings in Crosslake.
  • A bear charged at a man in Brainerd while he was walking his dogs.

A Police Chief's Take

The Brainerd Dispatch mentioned several reports of bears getting into bird feeders and garbage cans in Crosslake recently.

And since his interview with the Dispatch, Police Chief Bob Hartman told BringMeTheNews that there has been even more bear sightings.

One bear got into a woman's bird feeder, trash cans and took two screens off the windows of her house. Another knocked over garbage cans and was "snapping" and "woofing" at residents.

Hartman says that he hasn't received this many bear calls since the late 1990s.

“They’re extremely hungry coming out of hibernation and get protective with cubs around," he said.

Hartman even had his own encounter when a bear got into his garbage cans. He went outside to scare off the bear and "it just stood there with no fear," he said.

Hartman advises for residents to take down their bird feeders and bring their garbage cans inside at night to avoid bear encounters. He hasn't seen another bear since he started keeping his garbage cans inside.

But if you do find yourself face-to-face with a bear, "absolutely do not run away," said Hartman. "Make yourself look big as you can and scream and holler, then back away slowly."

For more information about black bears in Minnesota click here to go to the DNR's website.

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