As the weather warms, wildlife begins to move, including bears, which may lead to some conflict with area residents.
The County News Review spoke with DNR Area Wildlife Supervisor Tim Marion, who manages Isanti, Chisago, Kanabec and Mille Lacs counties, about recent area wildlife sightings.
Each year different weather patterns affect the animals in different ways. Marion said this year’s extremely wet weather is putting pressure on the animals.
“We are getting more (rain) than normal years. We have been getting a lot of rain — I think the wetlands and lowlands are really (flooded and saturated and) pushing the bears up,” Marion said. “Their natural food is green grasses — sedges, grasses. They are omnivores and will eat a variety of food throughout the year, but their primary food at this time is green grasses.”
In addition to the wet weather it was also an unusually cold spring.
“It’s been cold a little bit later,” Marion said.
But things are looking up.
According to Marion, there are no substantial storms coming up.
“Hopefully it will dry out. We are pretty wet,” he said.
And hopefully it will help the bears go back to their natural habitats.
For area residents that have sighted bears, Marion said the consistent common thread is bird feeders.
“Almost every call I take they say bird feeders,” Marion said.
The DNR has a policy that you should not feed the birds from April 1 to Nov. 15. The bird feeders will draw the bears in.
“There are some people that tolerate bears, some people enjoy them, and some people are deathly afraid of them. For those people, I say don’t feed the birds ever,” Marion said.
Even if you bring the feeder in at night, there is still the scent of the feeder outside and seed and suet on the ground. Once a bear is accustomed to having food at a particular location, even you remove the main source, then your barbecue grills and garbage will be hit. The key is being diligent about cleaning up.
Sometimes farmers will contact Marion about their feed. In those cases, he says it is important to secure feed in a shed or bear-proof container, but the majority of the calls he gets is the homeowner — resident and lake shore.
Hummingbird feeders also attract bears because of the sugar in the water. Marion recommends hanging flower baskets instead, which can also attract the birds.
For safety to people and pets, the biggest threat is a sow with cub.
“They are good moms,” Marion said. “You don’t want to be in between them. Watch out if there are cubs, the sow is not too far.”
Bears are active at dusk and dawn, so, if you can, put your garbage cans out the morning of pickup and store grills in a secure shed.
Earlier this month, the city of Cambridge posted the following note on its official Facebook page:
“The police department has received multiple reports of a juvenile black bear at various locations in the city. Although bear sightings in the city are not frequent, they do reside naturally within Isanti County. Black bears are typically not aggressive, however they are wild animals and as such should be left alone. The best way to ensure that this bear’s visit to the city is brief, is to remove it’s food supply. In the city this would consist of taking down bird feeders and not leaving trash cans outside of the house. If you have questions, please contact the Cambridge Police Department.”