Red Lake Comprehensive Health, a health organization in Red Lake Nation in northwestern Minnesota, is receiving nearly $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help tribal residents prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19.

The funding is part of $100 million in grants to tribes across the nation as part of the federal government’s Indian Community Development Block Grant Imminent Threat program, which provides funding to address problems that pose an immediate threat to public health or safety of tribal residents.

The grant money will be used for several projects on tribal lands nationwide, such as building new rental housing to address overcrowding and homelessness; building transitional housing for people who must quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19; and building an emergency operations center for COVID-19 issues.

“Tribes are finding new strategies in the face of the pandemic to address the health and safety of their communities through these grants,” said Joseph Galvan, HUD Midwest regional administrator.

Reid Forgrave

Northern Minnesota

Bears on the prowl for food-to-go

A bad summer for berries is driving bears to search for quick and easy meals at trash bins, bird feeders and campsites.

Minnesota wildlife officials are warning those who live and visit northern Minnesota to lock up trash, take down bird feeders and keep a clean campsite to ensure that food is inaccessible to bears.

The bear problem began with a dry summer in parts of northeast and north-central Minnesota that made bear staples such as blueberries and raspberries hard to find, said Andrew Tri, a bear biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources.

By early August, bears fatten up for winter, consuming 12,000 to 20,000 calories a day. The woodland food fare improved a bit after late season rains. Now, bears are finding a few chokeberries, some hazelnuts and acorns, Tri said.

But a tube bird feeder filled with sunflower seeds is mighty appealing to a bear and has as many calories as 800 acorns, he said.

“It’s a no-brainer for the bear to knock it down and lap it up. It’s like a week’s worth of calories,” he said. “And hummingbird feeders are basically bear Gatorade.”

Once a bear knows where to find food dispensers, the jig is up. “They’ll just walk around the lake and through the neighborhoods and knock down every bird feeder they can find,” Tri said.

Mary Lynn Smith