Be on the watch for collared bears
Hunters participating in Minnesota's bear season, which opens Sept. 1, are asked to avoid shooting radio-collared research bears.
The bears are marked with large colorful ear tags or colorful streamers.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) researchers are monitoring about 35 radio-collared black bears, most of them in northwestern Minnesota, especially near Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area and the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge. Additional radio-collared bears reside in and around the Chippewa National Forest, Camp Ripley, Cloquet Forestry Station and Voyageurs National Park.
Bear research also is being conducted between Ely and Tower near the Eagles Nest chain of lakes in northern St. Louis County.
"Hunters near these areas should be especially vigilant for these valuable research bears," said Dave Garshelis, DNR bear research biologist. "These animals provide long-term data on reproduction and habitat use that is invaluable for bear management across the state."
"We're asking that if hunters see ear tags or a collar on a bear, they refrain from shooting it," Garshelis said. "Researchers have invested an enormous amount of time and expense in these individuals."
Many of the collars have global positioning units that collect and store data, which is downloaded by DNR researchers when they visit the bears in their dens. Long-term records of individual bears have been the cornerstone of information that helps the DNR monitor and manage the bear population, Garshelis said.
DNR officials recognize that a hunter may not be able to see a radio collar or ear tags in some situations. For this reason, taking a bear with a radio collar is legal unless the bear is accompanied by a researcher who has identified the bear to the hunter as a research animal.
Any hunters who do shoot collared bears should call the DNR Wildlife Research office in Grand Rapids at 218-327-4146 or 218-327-4133.