GRAND RAPIDS - Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife managers are reporting an increase in nuisance bear complaints at this time of year. Bear sightings are most prevalent in northern Minnesota but they've also been spotted in the metropolitan suburbs.
"Despite the mild winter, this is a tough time of year for bears," said Jeff Lightfoot, DNR regional wildlife manager in Grand Rapids. "After hibernation, they are hungry. When berries and vegetation are scarce, bears are often tempted by dog food, livestock feed, birdseed, barbecues, compost or garbage."
In addition, female bears chase away last year's offspring at this time of year. These young bears are inexperienced at finding food and searching for territories of their own. They are the most likely to show up in places where they are not welcome.
Spring is a good time for residents who live close to bear habitat to check their property for food sources that could attract bears.
"When human-related food is easy to find, bears stop seeking their natural foods," Lightfoot said. "These bears eventually get into trouble because they return again and again."
Unfortunately, food-conditioned bears often end up dead bears, said Lightfoot. Sometimes a bear causing problems must be trapped and destroyed.
People should always be cautious around bears. If they have persistent bear problems after cleaning the food sources, they should contact a DNR area wildlife office for assistance.