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Monday, December 19, 2011

Urban Bears

This summer we had a bear wander downtown that quickly attracted a crowd of a few hundred people.  Police tried to disperse the onlookers, but apparently there was just too much interest in seeing a wild bear downtown.  The on scene supervisor decided to call for a veterinarian from the zoo to tranquilize the bruin rather than shoot and kill it.  No DNR officials were available at the time.

The vet arrived a short time later and the bear was successfully tranquilized and relocated with out incident.  We received a bill from the vet for about $600, which was expected.  Since wild animals fall under the purview of the DNR we sent them the bill requesting them to cover the costs.  I was surprised and disappointed when I received a response from the DNR that wild animals in the City limits are the police department's responsibility and we should shoot and kill the bears in the future - if we feel they are a safety concern.  Considering the DNR 2010-2011 budget was over $900 million dollars I thought the least they could do is help us out with the bill for dealing with a wild bear downtown. 

Now I have a lot of good friends who work at the DNR and know they work hard to serve the public. This isn't about the dedicated, hard working boots on the ground.  It is about money and resources.  In recent years the City of Duluth has had to manage a rapidly growing deer herd and an associated bow hunt.  That takes resources.  Park Pointer's pitched in and rented a bear trap this summer after the DNR refused to help them with a problem bear.  It now appears the City of Duluth is going to have to manage a growing urban bear population.  Given the drastic cuts to State revenue sharing (or local government aid-LGA), I thought the DNR would be more willing to help out local governments.  It is disappointing to have yet another burden placed on local governments that the State should be responsible for.  

What happened with the vet bill? We paid the vet for her services out of the police department's budget.


  1. Thanks much for your concern of this bear and not just shooting and killing it per the recommendation of the DNR. Bears will be Bears and this one just happened to wander into the downtown area. It does not surprise me that the DNR would not pay. The least they could have done is gone 50/50. Many thanks for picking up the tab.

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  3. It appears that it's time for the City of Duluth to develop and implement a humane and respectful Urban Wildlife policy and plan.
    I'm not at all surprised at the DNR's response, or lack of one. My respect for the department as a whole is nil. Their initial reaction to just about any and all animal related incidents is to kill the animal - in direct contradiction to their published policies on their website. It is a shame that they do not teach their officers to have greater respect for wildlife and use their brains to create viable, humane alternatives to solve minor wildlife issues. Granted, some officers do, and they are to be applauded, but they are very few and far between. Perhaps that is to be expected of a department who's researchers still publish and spread incorrect information about black bears while ignoring the factual information gleaned from many years of direct black bear research by the Wildlife Research Institute near Ely. The DNR researchers still claim that bears sleep throughout the winter and do not drink, eat, urinate or defecate, and that they emerge from their dens ready to run! Not true!. The opposite has actually been proven and is available on the internet for all the world to see in videos from actual den cameras. It's rather pathetic to see taxpayer dollars wasted year after year on misinformation when the correct information is available at no cost. It is also rather pathetic when citizens, including school children, appear to know more about black bears than the MN DNR employees!
    Black Bears are not the ferocius, blood thirsty, predators, killers and carnivores they have been wrongfully portrayed to be. It is very unusual that a black bear would ever attack a person. Should a black bear huff, blow air and charge toward you, know that You are frightening the bear and it is letting you know that and telling you to back off, give it space and leave it alone - which is Exactly what you should do. As for Duluth's seemingly newer population of urban bears (they've been here all along, just rarely ever seen), please respect them and leave them alone to go their way. Until the foods in the woods start to bud and become more abundant, please remove bird feeders and wildlife feeders, especially at night, and make your garbage inaccessible to wildlife. If you see a bear in your yard, Do Not freak out, scream, tease, aggravate or attempt to frighten them away, or let your dog bark at them and chase them. They are not moving very fast having just come out of hibernation. Leave them alone and they will quietly go away in their own time. All they want and deserve, is to eat, sleep and be left alone to live their lives in peace.
    To learn more about black bears and dispel any fear you might have about them, please visit