Spring (eventually) coming, so prepare for bears in Minnesota

Bear in Zimmerman, Minn. (Photo credit Courtney Woodruff)

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding anyone living near bear habitat to check their property for food sources that could attract bears.

“Bears are roaming around now with the lack of snow and warmer weather, so interactions with people are going to start in central Minnesota which includes the southern part of the bear range,” said Eric Nelson, wildlife animal damage program supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.   

According to the DNR, as bears emerge from hibernation, their metabolism gradually ramps up and they will begin looking for food at a time when berries and green vegetation can be scarce. Pet food, livestock feed, bird seed, compost or garbage can attract bears. Attracting bears to yards can lead to property damage and presents dangers to bears. 

Only black bears live in the wild in Minnesota, and they usually are shy and flee when encountered. But, never approach or try to pet a bear.

RELATED: http://www.fox9.com/bearweek

- Do not leave food from barbeques and picnics outdoors, especially overnight. Coolers are not bear-proof.
- Replace hummingbird feeders with hanging flower baskets, which are also attractive to hummingbirds.
- Eliminate birdfeeders or hang them 10 feet up and 4 feet out from the nearest trees.
- Use a rope and pulley system to refill birdfeeders, and clean up spilled seeds. Where bears are a nuisance, birdfeeders should be taken down between now and Dec. 1.
- Store pet food inside and feed pets inside. If pets must be fed outdoors, feed them only as much as they will eat.
- Clean and store barbeque grills after each use. Store them in a secure shed or garage away from windows and doors.
- Pick fruit from trees as soon as it’s ripe and collect fallen fruit immediately.
- Limit compost piles to grass, leaves and garden clippings, and turn piles regularly. Do not add food scraps.
- Harvest garden produce as it matures. Locate gardens away from forests and shrubs that bears may use for cover.
- Use native plants in landscaping whenever possible. Clover and dandelions will attract bears.
- Do not put out feed for wildlife (like corn, oats, pellets or molasses blocks).

- Store garbage in bear-resistant garbage cans or dumpsters. Rubber or plastic garbage cans are not bear-proof.
- Keep garbage inside a secure building until the morning of pickup.
- Properly rinse all recyclable containers with hot water to remove all remaining product.
- Store recyclable containers, such as pop cans, inside. 
- Store garbage that can become smelly, such as meat or fish scraps, in a freezer until it can be taken to a refuse site or picked up by refuse collector.
- Take especially smelly or rotting garbage as soon as possible to your local refuse facility so it can be buried. 

If bear problems persist after cleaning up food sources, contact a DNR area wildlife office for advice. For the name of the local wildlife manager, contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367, or visit mndnr.gov/contact/locator.html