Thursday, September 10, 2015

Please don't feed the bears!


During the August clinic, Nancy was talking about a bear she had seen wandering back and forth along the road on Highway 15 coming up from Bemidji. Well, when I went back to Bemidji, I also saw this bear. There was no traffic, so I stopped next to him/her. He looked at me, and sat down like a dog and continued to look at me. I pulled down the road a bit, and got out to look at him again, and he started walking toward me. So I got back in my car and left. 

What a cutie! He looked very healthy with a shiny coat. On my way to Bemidji, I called the sheriff’s office to see if a DNR officer could go check him out and make sure he was not sick. I thought it was unusual that a wild animal was hanging around a road, and walking toward a human. The dispatcher indicated that the bear was probably hanging around the road because well-meaning people had been feeding him. 

This road is well traveled by the people of Red Lake, many of whom have a kinship with the bear through one of their clans, Makwa (Bear). They love bears, watching them, and possibly giving them treats. Unfortunately, this human behavior puts the wild bear at great risk for being hit by a car, particularly at night with their black coats. This also leads bears to be less frightened by humans, raid garbage cans and farms, and be shot or trapped as “nuisance bears”. 

This was a good lesson for me as well, being an animal lover who might also feed a wild bear. Next time I see a bear along the road, I will take a good look at its beauty and power, and then honk my horn and make lots of loud noises to scare it away from the road and humans.

If anyone wants to see wild bears up close (and safely), look up the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary in Orr, Minnesota. You can go there and view wild bears of all sizes feeding, and learn how they keep them from getting too acclimated to humans outside the sanctuary.

Take care,

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