DNR Urges Caution After Bear Incidents Near Ely

ELY, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is urging people to be careful after recent reports of aggressive behavior by black bears in the Ely area.

The DNR says some reports involve collared bears that are part of research being conducted by biologist Lynn Rogers.

A collared bear at Bear Head Lake State Park reportedly has approached occupied vehicles and put its front paws on vehicles. Another report involves a collared bear within three feet of a 2-year-old child near the open door of a vehicle. The child’s mother scared off the bear with a wheelbarrow.

Rogers disputes that the collared bears are aggressive.

Early Monday, a homeowner killed a non-collared bear that refused to leave the homeowner’s porch. That bear is not believed to be part of a research project.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Jake

    I think that these collared bears are in BIG TROUBLE. These bears are NOT pets, people.

    • Julie Ann

      Please report the ENTIRE story. The driver of the car stopped on the road, rolled down the windows, and threw food out. And then you’re surprised and considering it “aggressive behavior” that the bear put its paws on the hood of the car? Really? People are more to blame than animals here. People claim to be the intelligent ones, and yet this is what they do? Educate yourselves please.

      • Julie Ann

        I did not intend for this to be a reply to “Jake”. Apparently I need to educate myself on how to post a comment on this site. However, Jake, NO ONE has EVER said these collared bears were “pets”…they are definitely wild animals.

        • John W. Noraas

          How is that different than what Lynn Rogers is doing feed bears, or the feedings going on at Vince Shute Sanctuary. How far does this really have to go before the state is sued for allowing this kind of activity to continute? One child mauled, houses broken into, feeding bears is bad and habituating them is worse.

  • Sarah Endsley

    Why does the DNR use a grizzly bear as the photo to this column? Black bears are quite different than grizzly bears, though they too are misunderstood. If you have questions, please read Dr. Rogers’ research and observations. Educate yourselves to the behavior of the North American Black bear.

  • Candy Helin

    Shame on you WCCO. You’ve done enough stories on the radio collared bears to know they are BLACK bears not grizzly bears. Why would you taint this story with a photo of a grizzly? Apparently you need some educated proof readers. I echo Sara’s comment -” Educate yourselves to the behavior of the North American Black bear.” I would venture a guess that people are either making up these stories of agressive bears, or they panicked and misread the bears intentions. Of course these bears are not pets, but they are not agressive either. Leave them alone and they will leave you alone.

  • Mike Jacobson

    Most or all media outlets have no shame. The reporting party wants to make a name for he or she. They wouldn’t care if their story caused a family of bears to be wiped out, due to curiosity or hunger. Good Neighbors??

  • TW

    So many bears are being acclimated to being near people, many of them are being fed by bear watchers so of course they are coming around looking for attention. If a bear comes toward you and you don’t want it to that is aggression, you don;t wait until it is biting or taking swipes at you to define that as aggression. It is the same problem that they have to manage at Yellowstone and other national parks where bears are a big draw for park visitors. Like BooBoo said, “I don’t think the Ranger is going to like this”.

  • Paula

    WCCO-I thought you did QUALITY reporting! You have done many stories on black bears-how did you fall so short on this story? Black Bears are timid eating machines. If a car stops and throws them food they WILL explore to see if they can get more food. That doesn’t make them aggressive. There was no intent of harm there.
    If a bear wanders to a porch of a house, no doubt the homeowner didn’t keep a clean yard/porch and the bear wanted food. Black bears are extremely shy and timid animals. Again, looking for food is not the same as being aggressive. For a homeowner to shoot a bear just because it was there is wrong on so many levels. If the bear actually showed some aggressive behavior then report that please.
    This story reads as though you are trying to create drama and controversy. And to use a picture of a Grizzly is irresponsible to say the least. You have lost significant respect in my mind. Please step up and do things right from now on!! How about a follow up story explaining how black bears are NOT aggressive animals, but that they are eating machines and they will climb on cars and porches to get food if they smell it or know it came from there already? How about a story on the importance of not hunting any collared research bears? Come on now, do a responsible story!

  • Corinne

    Totally irresponsible reporting. You need a follow up story that includes information from anyone with correct information about bear studies in MN.
    Shame on you for not providing decent safely information for people regarding bears and going for the fear !

  • Nancy

    When reporting on black bears, please at least use a picture of a black bear, not a grizzly bear. There are no grizzlies in MN except maybe captive in zoos. Although, grizzlies look more ferocious and are larger which sensationalizes the story more even though misleading.

    This story resulted from a DNR press release that have been trying to discredit the Ely bear research for years and apparently is continuing to do so. And you jumped on the story without investigating accuracy.

    Responsible tourists don’t stop on a highway when bears are feeding on vegetation in the ditch and lure them to their car with food and then accuse them of being ‘aggressive’. Especially in a year when wild foods are scarce for the bears who are putting on weight to survive the winter. If strangers lures your child to his car with candy is your child ‘aggressive’ and the perpetrator?

    Well meaning people feed wildlife to sustain them through rough times. But keep the car moving. Bears are not dogs that will pursue the car for more food. If a bear gets too close honk the horn to scare them away. People need to take some responsibility when in bear territory. The DNR has guidelines to follow when in bear territory; but, when people do not follow those guidelines the bears are being ‘aggressive’. No, they are following their natural instincts.

    The DNR is concerned about liability. Bears are owned by the state of MN. If a bear puts its paws on a car and it gets scratched is MN responsible for repairs? Probably yes. Is it legal to just stop your car in the middle of a highway without mechanical failure? Look at the pictures the DNR released. The car did not even pull over to the side of the road. And, it just so happened that there was another vehicle stopped in the opposite direction with a camera ready to photograph the entire incident… Take a look at the reflection in the mirror. Does the photographer have a uniform on? Is that patch on his sleeve of a Minnesota officer? Staged or coincidence?? You be the judge.

    I challenge you to do an in-depth investigation. When were these pictures taken? The state of vegetation does look like the past few days or weeks. Who took the pictures? Did WCCO decide on the grizzly picture or who supplied it? With the vehicle stopped in the middle of the road and assuming the photographer is a MN officer based on arm patch why wasn’t the driver cited for impeding traffic?

    The DNR press release has all of these pictures online and has appeared in various newspapers in northern MN. I assume WCCO has access to them as well.

  • John W. Noraas

    Bears are not the cute cuddly animals folks portray them as….


    And we cant even get the DNR to discuss the number of bear attacks which occured in MN such as the researcher by the Mille Lacs, the woman in 2005, the gentleman from Mankato this spring in Canada, etc. etc. etc. quit the bs about misrepresentation and tell the whole story….

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