The black bear is a symbol of Minnesota's wilderness. Conflicts between people and bears have increased as more people build homes and cabins and recreate in northern Minnesota. Conflicts between people and bears arise when bears damage personal property, beehives, livestock and agricultural crops.
Bears are common throughout northern Minnesota. Although bears live primarily in forested areas they sometimes wander into cities and towns.
A bear will take advantage of any foods available and will attempt to eat anything that resembles food in look, smell or taste. When natural foods such as nuts, meat berries, insects and tender vegetation are scarce, bears search actively for anything to eat. This is when bears most often come in contact with people. When bears find a source of food they will usually return regularly.
Bears and people
Bears and people meet under a variety of circumstances. Most bears are wary of people and will usually leave when encountered. Although seeing a bear can be a memorable experience, some people are frightened when they encounter these animals.
Bears can become a nuisance when they visit homes, resorts, campgrounds and restaurants. Although some bears become used to people, they are still wild animals no matter how "tame" they may appear. People must always be cautious around bears since they may react unpredictably.
To minimize bear encounters and respond appropriately if an encounter does occur, follow these tips:
Solving bear problems
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has the responsibility to reduce conflicts between bears and people. This is important to avoid unnecessary loss of bears and to maintain public support for sound bear management.
The DNR manages bears by:
- Providing quality bear habitat through sound forestry practices.
- Conducting research to increase knowledge of bear biology.
- Educating the public on how to live with bears.
- Assisting people with bear problems.
- Controlling the bear population with hunting seasons.
People share in the responsibility to avoid conflicts with bears. Learning effective measures to prevent bear problems will help both bears and people. The best way to avoid bear problems is to not attract them in the first place.
If you have persistent bear problems or want more information on bears, contact your local DNR Area Wildlife Manager for assistance.