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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Public urging DNR action over “boo-boo” bear

Mild-mannered bear, with apparent trash can lid around its neck, has proven difficult to live trap

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 6/26/19

ELY— A male black bear with what appears to be a garbage can lid around its neck has been frustrating DNR wildlife officials here in recent weeks. The bear has been a regular at lake homes and …

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Public urging DNR action over “boo-boo” bear

Mild-mannered bear, with apparent trash can lid around its neck, has proven difficult to live trap

Posted

ELY— A male black bear with what appears to be a garbage can lid around its neck has been frustrating DNR wildlife officials here in recent weeks. The bear has been a regular at lake homes and cabins from Birch Lake to the Fall Lake campground, generating dozens of phone calls to the DNR’s Tower area office from members of the public who are, mostly, concerned about the bear’s well-being.

The bear has been running a circuit of sorts, tapping bird feeders and other likely feeding spots, and, at some point, it appears the animal attempted to raid a public garbage can with a ring-like open top, which came off when the bear tried to remove its head. It’s been wearing the lid ever since.

The calls started coming in three weeks ago and the DNR has continued to hear from the public almost daily. Heeding calls to intervene, Rusch said DNR staff deployed a live trap in an effort to catch the bear in order to remove the lid. Rusch notes that the DNR got out of the business of live-trapping nuisance bears 20 years ago, but that they occasionally still use their barrel trap for special circumstances. He said there’s no evidence the bear is a threat to the public. He said it seems to have a gentle demeanor and appears to be well-fed— and both of those factors may be hampering the DNR’s ability to capture the animal. The bear has been inside the DNR’s barrel trap three times so far but has yet to aggressively pursue the bait canister inside that should trigger the trap to close.

“He’s not trap-shy,” said Rusch. “But he’s a gentle bear and hasn’t sprung the trap yet.”

Rusch said summertime bird feeders and recreational bear feeding appear to be contributing to the problem by bringing bears into lakefront properties where some cabin owners enjoy seeing them, while others are fearful.

For now, Rusch said his office will continue to keep its trap deployed in hopes that the bear will eventually set it off. If so, they’ll use a tranquilizer to sedate the bear to allow the DNR to remove the lid from the bear’s neck.

At this point, he said the lid does not appear to be impinging on the bear’s neck, or preventing it from traveling and obtaining food, so the DNR would appear to have time to capture the bear. Even so, Rusch said his office would likely to resolve the issue soon.

“This bear’s been a real pain in the butt,” said Rusch.

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