MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Centerville’s Cottonwood Court looked more like Pooh Corner last week, when a young black bear out for a stroll gave some teenagers quite a scare.
Hailey Nelson, 17, and Dori Arndt, 15, were doing some gardening Tuesday afternoon outside the home of friend Hailey Nyberg, 17. As Nelson worked, she thought she saw Nyberg’s dog walk by in the corner of her eye.
“We wanted money, so we decided to go pull some weeds and we’re just pulling some weeds, just talking, listening to some music, turn our heads and it’s just a black lab,” Nelson said.
A camera in one of the Nyberg’s front windows captured the moment when the realization kicked in: That’s not the family dog.
“It was a bear!” Nelson said.
Nelson and Arndt sprung up in terror and made a beeline for the front door. But there was a slight problem — it was locked.
“So I’m pounding on the door saying, ‘Let us in!’ Screaming our heads off, just wanting to get inside! Then [Hailey Nyberg] pokes her head around the corner,” Nelson said.
Dad Brian Nyberg pulled Nelson and Arndt inside, before warning his daughter to take cover.
“I heard them screaming and my dad came outside and is just like, ‘Why are you still out here? A bear just walked pass our … front yard!’ I’m just like, ‘What?’” Hailey Nyberg said. “And then he’s just like, ‘Get inside!’”
Brian says he figured the girls were being swarmed by bees when he first heard their screams.
“I think both Hailey and I, we heard the screaming, we both thought, you know, they maybe got into a yellow jacket nest,” Brian said. “They were just terrified, screaming, and the pounding on the door was so fast.”
The Nybergs say after watching the footage, they were amused by Nelson’s and Arndt’s priorities while fleeing danger.
“I think it was funny that the first thing Dori went for was her water bottle [laughs]!” Hailey Nyberg said. “She couldn’t think about anything else except her water bottle!”
“They both grabbed their phones,” Brian said. “You can’t leave your phones out there.”
Brian says the bear appeared to be a juvenile that may be 1-and-a-half-years old, and about twice the size of their 80-pound black Labrador Retriever.
“[The bear] picked up the pace a little, but you can see he kinda turned its head and looked at the girls screaming when they got up,” Brian said.
He says he was worried when the bear started walking towards Main Street and County Road 14.
“A couple times … it turned back and head towards our yard, then it wanted to go over Main Street, and there was a lot of traffic at that time,” he said.
The bear instead started making its way through the neighborhood’s backyards, before disappearing into nature.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says bears are usually lost and searching for food when they wander into residential neighborhoods. Black bears typically eat berries, which are scarce this summer due to the drought. If you encounter a bear, the DNR says you should leave it alone, give it space, and let it find its own way out of the area. They also advise removing birdfeeders and trash from yards, and to monitor pets when they’re outdoors.
The DNR tracks bears that are outside their traditional habitat. Click here for more information.
Hailey, Hailey and Dori are delighted that the video has gone viral, racking up more than 30,000 views on WCCO’s Instagram page in a matter of hours.
“The looks on their faces as they were running, kind of priceless,” Brian said.