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Bear spottings trigger warnings from DNR

Daryl and Shirley Saathoff of Brandon found a set of bear tracks in the mud along a minimum maintenance road north of Parkers Prairie. (Contributed)1 / 2
Kevin Grove of Brandon took this photo of a bear walking near the Millerville cemetery last week. (Contributed)2 / 2

Wildlife managers remind homeowners who live near bear habitat to be “bear-aware” by checking their property for food sources that could attract bears.

Allowing bears to forage for food in a yard can present dangers to bears and people, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Bears that have emerged from hibernation begin looking for food at a time when berries can be scarce.

Bears – or their tracks – have been sighted recently in the Douglas County area.

Kevin Grove of Brandon saw one coming out of the Millerville cemetery last week. It was heading north toward County Road 7. He said it’s the first bear he’s seen in the area.

The bear wasn’t acting aggressively.

“It just stopped and looked at me, walked away and then stopped and looked at me again, and I took a picture,” Grove said. “Finally, I took off before it did.”

Also, Daryl and Shirley Saathoff of Brandon came across some big bear tracks in the mud on a minimum maintenance road north of Parkers Prairie.

Bears may be tempted by dog food, livestock feed, birdseed, compost or garbage, say wildlife experts. Although bears are normally shy and usually flee when encountered, they may defend an area if they are feeding or are with their young.

The DNR warns people to never approach or try to pet a bear. Injury to people is rare, but bears are potentially dangerous because of their size, strength and speed.

The DNR does not relocate problem bears. Relocated bears seldom remain where they are released. They may return to where they were caught or become a problem somewhere else.

The DNR offers the following tips for avoiding bear conflicts:

AROUND THE YARD

• Do not leave food from barbecues and picnics outdoors, especially overnight. Coolers are not bear-proof.

• Replace hummingbird feeders with hanging flower baskets, which are also attractive to hummingbirds.

• Eliminate birdfeeders or hang them 10 feet up and 4 feet out from the nearest trees.

• Use a rope and pulley system to refill birdfeeders, and clean up seeds that spill onto the ground. Where bears are a nuisance, birdfeeders should be taken down between April 1 and December 1.

• Store pet food inside and feed pets inside. If pets must be fed outdoors, feed them only as much as they will eat.

• Clean and store barbecue grills after each use. Store them in a secure shed or garage away from windows and doors.

• Pick fruit from trees as soon as it’s ripe, and collect fallen fruit immediately.

• Limit compost piles to grass, leaves and garden clippings, and turn piles regularly. Adding lime can reduce smells and help decomposition. Do not add food scraps. Kitchen scraps can be composted indoors in a worm box with minimal odor.

• Harvest garden produce as it matures. Locate gardens away from forests and shrubs that bears may use for cover.

• Use native plants in landscaping whenever possible. Clover and dandelions will attract bears.

• For bee hives, elevate them on bear-proof platforms or erect properly designed electric fences.

• Do not put out feed for wildlife (like corn, oats, pellets or molasses blocks).

GARBAGE

• Store garbage in bear-resistant garbage cans or dumpsters. Rubber or plastic garbage cans are not bear-proof.

• Keep garbage inside a secure building until the morning of pick-up.

• Store recyclable containers, such as pop cans, inside. The sweet smells attract bears.

• Store especially smelly garbage, such as meat or fish scraps, in a freezer until it can be taken to a refuse site.

People should always be cautious around bears.

If they have persistent bear problems after cleaning up the food sources, they should contact a DNR area wildlife office for assistance. For the name of the local wildlife manager, contact the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or 1-888-646-6367, or visit www.mndnr.gov/contact/locator. html to find a local office.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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