State DNR says bears starting to emerge from hibernation

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While winter doesn't appear to be behind us with all the snow of late, it's that time of year where bears are starting to emerge from hibernation, The Associated Press reports.

A bear researcher for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Grand Rapids said in a press release that there's no need for people to be alarmed by the emergence of the bears initially, but should be aware that they will soon be looking for food.

"Spring can be a tough time of year for some bears," Karen Noyce said. "As they emerge hibernation, they are not immediately hungry, but over the following week, their metabolism ramps up and they will begin looking for food."

Noyce said with with the scarcity of berries and vegetation this time of year, "bears may be tempted by dog food, livestock feed, birdseed, compost or garbage."

The DNR said bear sightings are most common in the northern part of the state, but bears can also be found in some cities farther south.

Jeff Lightfoot, the DNR's Northeastern regional wildlife manager, says people who live near bear habitats should remove food that attracts the creatures. Ultimately, he said, it resolves problems much more effectively than attempting to trap and destroy bears.

Lightfoot also noted that bears are usually shy and flee when encountered, but you should still take precautions.

"Never approach or try to pet a bear. They are unpredictable wild animals," Lightfoot said. "Injury to people is rare, but bears are potentially dangerous because of their size, strength and speed."

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