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Bears are up and about. Don't leave any food out for them

Duluth's Congdon bear spent the winter under a front yard, but up and left in March.

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A black bear that dug a den under a front yard in Duluth's Congdon neighborhood, captured by a trail camera at night in December. The bear hibernated there for the winter but left in March. Wildlife experts say bears are emerging form their dens now and are looking for any food they can find. Don't give them anything to eat and they will move on.
Contributed / Jeanette Anderson
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DULUTH — Readers might remember the bear we wrote about in December , a big bruin that was eating his (or her?) way across the city's Congdon neighborhood until he finally decided to take his winter nap under Jeanette Anderson’s front yard .

The Congdon bear was unusually late to go to sleep last fall, and he was early to rise as well, waking up and leaving the weekend of March 19-20. It seems he made it through the winter just fine. Anderson noted the bear seems to be coming back to spend some days underground between nightly food runs in the neighborhood.

More Northland bears are rising from their partial slumber (hibernation isn’t really sleep) and will be coming out of their dens hungry. The Minnesota and Wisconsin departments of natural resources remind people who live in bear country — essentially all of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, including Duluth and Superior — not to leave any potential food sources out for bears to eat.

Check out more stories from our Northland Outdoors section.

Most importantly, make sure bears can’t access garbage and recycling cans/carts. Leave them in your garage or other storage until the morning of pickup. Make sure all pet food is stored where bears can’t get at it. Also make sure to stop feeding birds now through October. Birds don’t really need our help after the snow melts and bird feeders, unless they are really high and inaccessible — at least 10 feet up and four feet out from tree trunks — become bear feeders this time of year.

It might be a good idea to make sure your outdoor barbecue grill is stored, or at least clean, too, as bears have really good sniffers and will investigate anything that smells like food.

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“Please take the time now to remove or secure anything that could attract a bear,” said Eric Nelson, Minnesota DNR wildlife damage program supervisor. “Prevention is key. Once a bear finds a food source, it will likely return again.”

If you have a bear that won’t leave, contact your local DNR wildlife office. You can find their information at dnr.state.mn.us/areas/wildlife/index.html . But be warned, the DNR rarely traps and removes problem bears any more. If you can’t learn to live with the bear it may be shot and killed. For more information on how to live with bears go to dnr.state.mn.us/livingwith_wildlife/bears/index.html .

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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