News release: Be BearWise this summer while recreating outdoors

May 20, 2024

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds hikers, campers and others recreating outdoors to be aware of bears and learn how to prevent conflicts with bears.

Minnesota is bear country, but people can peacefully share the outdoors with bears by paying attention to where and when they are most likely to encounter them. Black bears are naturally cautious animals that typically avoid human contact for their own safety; however, it’s important to be proactive to prevent human-bear conflicts.

“Coexistence with bears is completely doable with a few easy steps that anyone can follow,” said Andrew Tri, bear project leader. “The key things to remember are to not surprise them and to secure things bears view as food.”

When moving about in bear country, people should be aware of their surroundings, make noise periodically so bears know they’re there, and always keep dogs leashed. Letting dogs chase or bark at bears is asking for trouble. Don’t force a bear to defend itself. Keep your dogs leashed at all times or leave them at home.

To keep food away from bears, people should keep a clean camp by practicing leave no trace principles. People should:

  • Store coolers in a locked vehicle or store food in a certified bear-resistant container.
  • Take food waste with them rather than piling it outside the receptacle if the trash container or dumpster is full. Don’t leave trash or food scraps in camp and don’t burn scraps in the fire ring.
  • Not leave food, trash or pet food outdoors and unsupervised — all it takes is a few seconds for a hungry bear to swipe it.
  • Do not store food, trash, clothes worn when cooking, or toiletries in tents or camping hammocks.

Learn more about how to safely recreate in Minnesota on the Minnesota DNR website and at BearWise.

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