Nuisance Bear Complaints Start In Spring

By KBJR News 1

April 10, 2012 Updated Apr 10, 2012 at 5:55 PM CST

(Northland's NewsCenter)--DNR wildlife managers are starting to get quite a few complaints about nuisance bears in the Northland.

They encourage people living near bear habitats to start clearing their properties of any possible food sources.

After a long winter, bears have emerged from hibernation and are looking for food.

"They're hungry," Jeff Lightfoot, DNR Regional Wildlife Manager said. "They are trying to recover lost body weight from the winter time."

DNR officials say the nuisance complaints start to come each year when natural foods such as berries and vegetation aren't in full bloom.

When human related foods are easy to find, bears stop seeking their natural foods.

Experts say early spring is the time to clear your properties of any food sources.

"One is garbage, one is bird feeders, and another now, as it starts to get warm, is people have barbeque grills out on their decks," Lightfoot said.

Bears may also start to go after things like dog food, livestock feed, and compost.

But steps can be taken to discourage bears.

"Keep the garbage indoors until the day of pickup," Lightfoot said. "Indoors not necessarily meaning kitchen, but in the garage or a locked storage shed. Make sure they keep their barbeque grills clean. If they can, keep those stored as well."

Experts say its best to leave the bears alone if they do come onto your property.

Don't try to shoo them away. Instead, wait until they're gone to go back outside.

"They are big, strong animals and they could cause damage but they hardly ever do," Dave Garshelis, Bear Research Biologist said. "They are usually more scared of people."

Minnesota law states bears cannot be trapped for causing minor property damage such as tearing down bird feeders or garbage cans.

Garshelis says its only in extreme cases when a nuisance bear will be trapped or destroyed.

"Like a bear that breaks into somebody's house or you really feel like you can't get rid of the bear or the bear who is very aggressive," he said. "If you take the food away, the bear is eventually going to leave. "

Experts say treed bears will leave once the area is quiet.

Jennifer Walch
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