North Oaks made the local news recently regarding black bear sightings in our community. With the assistance of a home doorbell camera, a black bear was captured on camera casually walking through a front yard with surprised homeowners watching the four-legged trespasser through their windows. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, there have been many such black bear sightings in the past few weeks in the area between Interstate 35W and Highway 61, as well as in White Bear Township and Vadnais Heights.

Remove potential food sources to decrease your likelihood of encountering a black bear

Bears are attracted to areas where people are, such as their homes and cabins, by the food sources they leave behind. Bird feeders (seed and suet) and garbage bins are favorite snacking grounds for black bears. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has provided some good advice on dealing with bears in the area, highlighting that unintentionally providing food to bears is problematic because the animals will associate food with humans and become too comfortable and return to the food source time and time again.

Bears eat a varied diet in the wild, including vegetation, insect pupae, and many types of berries and nuts. Bears are also opportunists, though, and they will prefer the easiest meal they can get: this means a birdfeeder (refilled daily by helpful humans) and overflowing garbage or recycling bins. Remove garbage and recycling can odors by keeping bins clean, store bins in a less accessible location until the morning of garbage/recycling pick up and be sure to clean containers and wrappers before throwing them away. Compost vegetable scraps and keep meat scraps in your freezer until pick up day. Clean your barbecue grills and picnic tables. Do not keep pet food outside. With the fall harvest season here, be sure to harvest what you can to keep bears out of sweet corn, fruit trees, berry patches and gardens. Garden fencing may deter bears and protect beehives, depending on the strength of the fence.  

Black bears are shy and usually avoid people

If a bear wanders into your yard, don’t panic. Don’t shoot it and don’t approach it. Always remove dogs and people from the area. If a bear woofs, snaps its jaws, slaps the ground or brush or bluff charges, you are too close!  Back away slowly and go inside and wait for the bear to leave. If a bear refuses to leave, always allow the bear an escape route and make loud noises or throw something to scare it away. Contact the City directly when you have spotted a bear. The City is monitoring the wildlife and informing the DNR of the recent sightings.  

In North Oaks, we are fortunate to have so much beautiful wildlife and nature around us; it is our responsibility, as well as a privilege, to live with our creature neighbors. Before you know it, the fattened bears will retire to their dens to hibernate through the winter months—and our bear sightings will be memories and stories to be told on a cold winter’s night.  

— Kara Ries, North Oaks City Council

Source: MN Dept of Natural Resources

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