Bear hunting season starts Sept. 1, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants people to pay attention to the bears they're shooting.
If you see a bear with colorful ear tags and a radio-collar, don't touch that trigger. That's a research bear.
“We’re asking hunters to watch out for these valuable research bears, and avoid shooting them. These collared bears are providing a lot of data being used in bear management,” says Dave Garshelis, DNR bear research biologist.
DNR researchers are monitoring about 30 radio-collared black bears across the state. Most are in or near the Chippewa National Forest between Grand Rapids and Bigfork.
There are also some collared bears near Orr, Camp Ripley, and Plummer.
The collars allow the DNR to study things like reproduction, mortality, lifespan and more.
The DNR notes that hunters might not be able to see the collars because they can blend in with the animals' fur. So it's best to look for the colorful 2-inch by 2-inch ear tags.
If you do accidentally shoot one of the research bears, you won't be in trouble. Just call the DNR Wildlife Research Office in Grand Rapids at 218-328-8879 or 218-328-8874 to make arrangements to return the radio collar.
And if you have or get trail camera photos of tagged bears, you can help support the research project by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org.