A young bear gets into a resident’s feeder.

A young bear gets into a resident’s feeder.

As summer draws to a close, bears are searching for high-energy food to help them make it through the winter in good shape.

Bears need to consume 12,000-20,000 calories per day to prepare for hibernation. That is 6-7 pounds of black oil sunflower seed or 700-800 acorns.

These ominvorous creatures find trash cans, bird feeders and dishes of pet food pretty irresistable when they are out foraging.

Minnesota DNR Aitkin area wildlife managers get an increasing number of calls about nuisance bears from frustrated homeowners at this time of year. Wildlife manager Russ Reisz suggests people reduce bear conflicts by reducing the attractants in their yards.

“Once a bear finds a food source, it will return repeatedly. Bears prefer natural foods and are especially attracted to calorie-dense food sources. They have an incredible sense of smell, are opportunistic and are easily attracted to foods or food sources provided by humans,” explains the DNR, at www.dnr.state.mn.us/livingwith_wildlife/bears/index.html).

Meeting a bear can be a positive experience if people treat them with a big dose of respect.  Big, fast and powerful, bears are shy and wary of people. DNR Wildlife staff said, “Give them space and don’t view them as an inherent threat.” Bearwise.org is a website maintained by BearWise, a program that helps people, neighborhoods and communities prevent problems with black bears.  They offer six at-home BearWise basics:

• Never feed or approach bears

• Secure food, garbage and recycling

• Remove bird feeders when bears are active

• Never leave pet food outdoors

• Clean and store grills

• Alert neighbors to bear activity

Minnesota DNR manages the black bear population with a hunting season.  On Aug. 14, hunters could legally begin baiting bears. Bear hunting season begins Sept. 1 and ends Oct. 18.

Aitkin residents should report nuisance bear activity by calling 911.

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