DNR shoots and kills researcher's study bear near Ely

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 3, 2012 - 11:21 PM

A state conservation officer shot the young animal after it went into a garage where children were playing.

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A conservation officer shot and killed a collared black bear on Thursday in the Ely area after it entered a garage where children were present and refused to leave the area.

Photo: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,

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A conservation officer shot and killed a collared black bear in the Ely area after officials said it entered a garage where children were present and refused to leave the area.

The bear was recently collared by bear researcher Lynn Rogers' Wildlife Research Institute in Ely.

"It was a yearling we called Noliana that showed up in the community a few weeks ago,'' Rogers said Friday. "It's not a bear we know well. It was a calm, trusting bear. I cannot believe this bear would be threatening to anyone."

It's the second time in less than a year that a bear collared by Rogers' research institute has been shot and killed. Hope, a bear whose birth and life made her an Internet darling, was shot and killed legally by a hunter last fall.

Rogers said the bear killed this week apparently had been injured by a vehicle but had recovered and allowed researcher Sue Mansfield to put a radio collar on it.

"We were giving her antibiotics," he said. "She was never threatening."

Threat to children's safety

DNR officials said they received a call Thursday from upset residents whose children were in their garage when a bear entered it. The residents reported they made repeated unsuccessful attempts to scare the bear away, including using an air horn, and that the bear snarled at them.

They called the DNR, and two conservation officers arrived to find the bear still in the area. The DNR said the bear appeared to have been habituated to humans through hand feeding. Conservation officer Dan Starr reported that the bear walked right up to him and mouthed his hand, but didn't bite it.

He killed the bear because of safety concerns, shooting it once with a shotgun slug.

Rogers said the incident occurred about 15 miles west of Ely. He didn't criticize the DNR for killing the bear, but said, "It's an example why education about bears is so necessary.''

The DNR plans to examine the bear carcass for disease or other illness.

The state's bear hunting season opens Sept. 1, and Rogers said he still has 13 collared bears in the woods near Ely. The DNR also has collared research bears in northern Minnesota.

Managing nuisance bears

While it's not illegal for hunters to shoot a collared bear, the DNR asks hunters to avoid shooting them, a request Rogers echoed.

Under DNR policy and state law, conservation officers and other enforcement agencies may kill nuisance bears if it is determined the bear is a threat to public safety. The DNR generally does not trap and relocate nuisance bears because the animals often will return to the same area or create a problem somewhere else.

An average of about 20 bears are killed legally each year in Minnesota under state laws that allow private property owners or peace officers to take bears to protect property and public safety.

Minnesota has a population of about 19,000 bears.

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