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.

Comments (22)
  1. Please says:

    Replace “politics” with “Liberal pollitics.” Thanks Liberal union-card carrying democrat teacher for teaching these kids you personal liberal agenda!

    1. F.O.J. says:

      Boo hoo…ain’t life tough for the uneducated. Get a job you whiner!

    2. Jelzy says:

      So, conservatives hate bears? Remember that Rep. Peggy Scott is a Republican. And pretty tortured logic to take a cute story about first graders caring about bears and getting involved in politics and go all anti-union.

    3. judy h says:

      @please. Perhaps you and the state legislators need to do your homework on this issue. I know of a couple of 1st graders who could educate you on this.

  2. Jolene Nelson says:

    For the hunters, here’s a list of other states- how many endangered animals do you see???

  3. Carolyn Thomas says:

    …Wow…IF we had more teachers and kids like this what a wonderful world it would be.these kids love the bears and their state.I don’t see anything else.How great to start young hearts out with love and to work for something they care you should feel lucky to havethem in your state.Thank you kids for your pure hearts.

  4. Mary Anderson says:

    At the beginning of the video you see a beautiful poster with the MN State Symbols. The first graders asked why there was no state mammal. Why not have the black bear be the state mammal? First graders don’t have political agendas.

  5. jr says:

    Great Idea for the teacher to get students involved. I am ok with a state mammal. Not ok with a personal agenda about it being a bear because we seen a cut little bear in a den. there are alot of other choices to be had. I am not sure that when I think of our great state I think of bears. Plus the class is raising money to feed to research bears? Those bears are wild bears and never be fed. They already have to much human contact. They never should have names nor should they be treated any different than any other bear.

  6. BarbLoz says:

    Ohio’s state mammal is the white tailed deer…still hunted by hunters and no one is unhappy. The Minnesota bear is doing pretty well….should their populations EVER go south…it would be nice to see that they are important enough to save…unlike their European and Asian counterparts!

  7. Jestina Stone says:

    This movement is about 1st graders wanting to make a difference. It’s about a group of 7 year olds who learned about an animal and were impressed at all the interesting facts and truly believe the black bear would be a fine state symbol. These young leaders realized our state didn’t have a state mammal and they chose to make a difference and to pursue their vision. Their teacher is passionate about teaching these kids to make a difference and to work hard at something you believe in. I am proud of these children. We need to recognize their passion and to continue to inspire them to use their voices.

    1. Mary Vespia says:

      Well said Jestina!

  8. Joyce says:

    What other state symbol has been put on the endangered list? I think the hunters don’t want any state mammal named.

  9. Clare McCuen says:

    It’s exciting to see these children take such a passion in their studies and their local environment, and learn about their political system at the same time. I’ve read about them through the past year, and admire their passion, and how they communicate it to the public. It’s pretty evident that they learned a lot. Let’s hope we learn from them. Great Job!

    1. Kerry Mahoney says:

      I too am very impressed with the teachers and children who have taken such an interest in learning about the black bears – what a great idea to make the black bear the state mammal…..

  10. Ann Andrle says:

    This has been a great learning experience for all who watched Lily the Bear. It created a new awareness for young and old as to nature and it’s relationship to science and research. Do any of you recall that an enzyme produced in the bear’s stomach may be a possible cure for heart disease? And the enzyme can be produced without euthanizing the animal? What is more important to kids than creating an interest in the world around them and interacting in a very positive way? Please don’t ignore them representatives.

  11. Sandy says:

    Maybe Minnesota should make the state mammal the human, and then you could be hunted. Sounds fair to me.

  12. Lisa says:

    I Think making the Black Bear, the state mammal, sounds like a wonderful idea, why not?
    Best of Luck, Dana and kids!

  13. Chris Petersonm says:

    The Issue her is that the student s have proposed that Minnesota have a state Mammal and that an appropriate choice is the Black Bear. And, why not? The Black Bear has put Minnesota on the Map, so to speak, around the world and garnered more tourism dollars for this state. People in Spain, Great Britain, Germany, Poland, Australia, Russia, etc. have been talking about and watching some of Minnesota’s Black Bears over the Internet since January 2010. Why not honor the Black Bear’s contribution (albeit unknowingly) by making it Minnesota’s State Mammal? It certainly can’t hurt anything. So far, no legitimate and reasonable argument against it has been raised. Hunters? Pshaw!

  14. Joyce says:

    This is a wonderful thing for these first graders to accomplish! They will see that they can make a difference in their world by seeing this bill passed. This bill is not a complicated bill and should be easy to pass…it wouldn’t take much time at all to get it passed. And these children would see that they MADE A DIFFERENCE by seeing something that needed to be done and that their interest in making the black bear the Minnesota State Mammal is a good and worthy cause. I applaud them! Minnesota, you can do this! Do it for the kids!

  15. Mary Auldrich says:

    Dana Coleman was able to incorporate the bear cam into the math,english, and Government lessons. They researched and found out that MN does not currently have a state mammal. These young children put together a petition to make the black bear the state mammal. Enough signatures were gained, and the kids were all very excited to go to the capital and present it to the house in their next session. This is a great accomplishment for a group of 6 & 7 year old students. I applaud their efforts and the creative teachings of Dana Coleman. We need more teachers like Ms. Coleman

  16. Chloe says:

    Brandon is my nephew and I am SO PROUD of him and his class! They are so adorable! PLEASE DONT IGNORE THEM REPS!!!!