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Bear sightings increase slightly this spring: Dry conditions may force them to roam farther for food

BEMIDJI -- While spotting a bear around Bemidji is nothing new, officials say there have been a few more sightings as of late.

In the past week, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office has received several reports of bears wandering into yards and right up to houses. According to the office’s Facebook page, a bear even came up to Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Hinners’ vehicle and said hello while he was writing reports near Nebish. Another call had a bear pawing at sliding glass door at a house near Blackduck. And on Wednesday, the Bemidji Police Department helped escort a bear out of town spotted near the Sanford Center.

Because of the unusual number of bear sightings in the Bemidji area, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is advising what to do when a bear is encountered.

DNR Area Wildlife Supervisor Dave Rave said the most important things are not to feed or approach a bear.

“Because of the dryness this year, there’s not as much food out there for the bears,” he said. “So they’re wandering a little bit further, and they’re coming into more people’s yards after things like birdseed.”

Since food is the bear’s main attraction, it is important for people to get rid of anything in the yard that a bear could eat, including bird seed, hummingbird feeders, dog food and garbage.

If trash cans need to be outside, the DNR recommends getting a metal, bear-proof trash can.

Rave said there are steps you can take if there is a bear in a place you don’t want it to be.

“Typically if the bear is in your yard, and you don’t want it there it’s good to make some noise and try to scare the bear away,” he said.

The suggested action is to open a window and bang pans together.

“There’s a very good chance that people are going to see some bears this year,” Rave said. “Bears are not typically dangerous; however, they’re big animals, and they’re very, very strong, so there is a possibility that they can be dangerous.”

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