I think just about everyone living in Minnesota has either had an experience with bears or knows somebody who has had a memorable encounter.

I know my family has had many in our neighborhood. For example, my wife was grilling out on the deck last summer and a large black bear, who likely sensed there was good food nearby, nonchalantly walked near the deck to see what was up.

Needless to say, when my wife looked up and saw her visitor, her heart skipped a beat as she waved to get my attention and then closed the grill and watched the bear as she slowly walked back into the house.

It's quite an adrenaline rush to have a bear sneak up on you, especially in your own yard, but the fact of the matter is that they are out there, and preventing bear conflicts is something everyone should take seriously.

Minnesota Is Bear Country

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources took the opportunity recently to remind hikers, campers, and everyone recreating outdoors to be aware of bears and learn how to prevent bear conflicts.

They note that even though Minnesota is "Bear Country", people can share the outdoors with bears peacefully by simply paying attention to where and when they are most likely to encounter them.

A black bear, like the one who visited our house, is a naturally cautious animal that typically avoids human contact for its own safety. That being said, it’s important to be proactive to prevent human-bear conflicts.

How To Coexist & Prevent Conflicts With Bears In Minnesota

Andrew Tri, a Minnesota DNR bear project leader, says that coexisting with bears is something that can be achieved as long as people don't surprise them and they secure all things bears view as food.

People should also always be aware of their surroundings. If in an area where bears may be present, make noise periodically so the bears know you're there. Also, if you have dogs, the DNR says you should always keep them leashed.

Letting dogs chase or bark at bears is asking for trouble as it forces bears to defend themselves, which is not good news for your dog. Therefore, keep dogs leashed at all times or leave them at home.

Keeping food away from bears is also an important tactic to prevent any conflicts. If camping, be sure to keep a clean camp by practicing leave-no-trace principles.

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Things all outdoor enthusiasts can do include:

  • Store coolers in a locked vehicle or store food in a certified bear-resistant container.
  • Take food waste with them rather than piling it outside the receptacle if the trash container or dumpster is full. Don’t leave trash or food scraps in camp and don’t burn scraps in the fire ring.
  • Not leave food, trash, or pet food outdoors and unsupervised. Remember, it only takes a few seconds for a hungry bear to swipe it.
  • Do not store food, trash, clothes worn when cooking, or toiletries in tents or camping hammocks.

More helpful information to help coexist with bears can be found on the BearWise website. 

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