ANDOVER, Minn. (WCCO) — Some Twin Cities elementary students are adding another subject to their list of lessons: politics. They’ve been trying to get the black bear named Minnesota’s official state mammal, only to be disappointed by the recent prospects of actually getting it done.
“I’m hoping that the bill will be passed, and the rest of the class hopes that too,” said Brandon Hanson, a first grader at Andover Elementary School in the North Metro.
He and his classmates have been learning about black bears, which is now part of their class curriculum. But recently they found out they might come up short on their goal, not because of what they did, but because state lawmakers didn’t consider this subject important enough.
Their goal started after Den Cam video of Lily the Bear captured the hearts of people across the world. Teacher Dana Coleman saw the video, and her students couldn’t get enough of it.
They made greeting cards and sold them to raise money to buy food for the research bears. Then they took their efforts a big step further, trying to get the Bear Bill signed into law.
“We’ve learned so much about it, and we can tell our kids that we got the black bear the state mammal,” said one student about the desire for the law.
But the kids will have to wait longer to possibly see it happen.
“Snags can happen,” admitted State Rep. Peggy Scott, who sponsored the Bear Bill.
It fell on deaf ears, so to speak, at the Capitol. With only 10 weeks to get things done, it wasn’t at the top of the priority list, and it was going nowhere.
“It didn’t probably rise to the level as something as important as some government reforms and getting people back to work in the state of Minnesota,” she said.
Scott also acknowledged that hunters were concerned that if the black bear became the state mammal, it might also show up on the list of endangered animals.
But knowing how important the bill is to the kids, she called a legislative leader who was able to get the bill to the next step in the process — a hearing.
“Sometime we’re going to go on a field trip to the State Capitol to see if the bill will pass or not,” Brandon said.
Brandon and his classmates did their homework on this issue. They say that Minnesota is only one of four states that doesn’t have a state mammal. It’s another reason why they think their bill needs serious consideration.
Brandon and his classmates will be closely following what happens next at the Capitol and at the Den Cam in Ely.