Bears are making more frequent appearances in populated areas, DNR officials say
You could almost say bears are a part of one Maple Grove neighborhood.
Anna Winberg and her daughter Payton live near Ives Lane and 101st Avenue, close to the Elm Creek Park Reserve.
“I look up, and sure enough, there’s a bear walking through this way,” Winberg said.
She says her family has spotted at least three bears in the past year — and they have the videos and photos to prove it.
“It’s a little unsettling, having a dog and two kids running around,” Winberg said. “[We] know the bears aren’t going to mess with us — they’re more afraid of us.”
The neighborhood’s latest visitor was a 7-pound female cub, discovered Tuesday morning sitting in a tree.
We asked John Moriarty, the senior manager of wildlife at Three Rivers Park District, about what it was like to catch her.
“Kind of like when you catch one of your cats that doesn’t want to be caught,” he laughed. “They have very sharp nails for climbing trees, and so we tried to keep it as calm as we could. Once we got it into the pet carrier, it just sat there. It was quiet then.”
The cub is now being taken care of at a wildlife rehab facility in Crow Wing County.
Just days ago, on Sunday, a 120-pound adult male bear was spotted in a north Minneapolis neighborhood.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says officers put it down because of its presence in a populated neighborhood.
“The officers on site determined it a public safety threat, and so once that decision is made, they decided to dispatch it,” explained Andy Tri, bear project leader with the DNR.
It turns out Minnesota’s bear population, estimated at nearly 16,000 statewide, is slowly migrating south, with some reports near the Iowa border.
The DNR says there were just over 1,000 bear sightings in 2022, 300 more than the year before.
Experts say a ready food supply may be luring more bears out of the woods, with sources such as bird feeders, garbage cans and barbecue grills.
Tri says a bear might become disoriented in an urban environment.
“Presumably, they follow some of these water courses or other water sheds or rail lines,” he said. “So there’s not a whole lot of people, and they find themselves in a neighborhood where they can’t easily escape back from where they came.”