Reporting Rachel Slavik
ELY, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has asked the public to avoid shooting radio-collared bears in the past. But on Thursday, one of its officers killed a collared bear near Ely, Minn.
A family called conservation officers for help after trying to shoo the bear away from their home. It walked up to a woman and her kids while they were in the garage. When conservation officers arrived they also tried to chase the bear away, but it showed no fear of humans. The animal was shot and killed.
“They sounded an air horn, also tried to use a stick to discourage it from coming closer, it simply refused to leave the residence.” said Chris Niskanen of the DNR. “That’s not normal bear behavior.”
Radio collared research bears have gotten worldwide attention ever since the North American Bear Center put up a live den camera of Lily and her cub, Hope.
The bear that was killed was named Noliana and was a newcomer to the study. In early July, researchers found her injured and added her to their study.
“We realized could put a collar on it without tranquilizers, so we did. It was just the sweetest bear,” said Lynn Rogers, of the North America Bear Center.
Noliana is the second bear collared bear killed in the last year. Hope was shot by a hunter last year and many in the public took issue. There are some who think collared bears should be protected under state law.
“We manage animal populations, we don’t manage individual animals,” Niskanen said.
There are 19,000 black bears in Minnesota and it is legal to kill nuisance bears if they are a threat to public safety. The DNR generally doesn’t trap and relocate the bears because the animals often return to the same area.
On average, 20 bears are killed legally each year. Homeowners are allowed to shot bears to protect their property or for public safety.