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Family of bears raids Hubbard County couple's bird feeders

A mother bear and her three cubs have been wandering through the Frank and Clara Whiteside yard off County Road 4 north of Park Rapids. The quartet is looking for food. Don't provide it, the DNR warns. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
A bear helps itself to the birdfeeders at the Whiteside home. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

Bears have been out and about this spring looking for food, often finding it in bird feeders.

Fred and Clara Whiteside, who live off County Road 4 about 10 miles out of Park Rapids, have seen a mother bear and her three cubs in their yard several times in the last few weeks.

"She was there last fall and now she's back," Clara said. "She's been tearing down all the bird feeders, the neighbors too."

The cubs are about a year old now, Clara estimates, because she saw them last year too.

Rob Rabasco, assistant area wildlife manager for the Department of Natural Resources in Park Rapids, said with the early, warm weather, bears came out of hibernation early.

"There isn't that much to eat out there yet," he said. "Things are greening up very fast. Their natural food sources, berries of different kinds, are on their way but not yet."

The wildlife office has gotten a few calls about bears knocking down bird feeders this spring, Rabasco said.

"We encourage people to put the feeders away," he said. "I would encourage people not to put those feeders out in the spring for a few weeks every year around this time."

When the fruiting shrubs start to get berries on them it is safe to put the feeders back out, he added.

"You have to be fairly persnickety about how clean your bird seed it," Rabasco said.

It's a good idea to keep the seed cleaned up underneath the feeder. The scent that comes from excess seed on the ground is what will attract and keep a bear around the feeders.

It is also important to keep birdseed in an isolated and secure location.

"A screened porch is not a good place," he said. "It will keep squirrels out but not a bear."

People don't need to be afraid of the bears attacking them or their kids, Rabasco said. Generally, the bears are after the food.

"We don't have any problems in the area as far as attack," he said. "As apparently frightening as a bear might be, they're more apt to run away from you."

Hollering is often enough to scare a bear away, he said.

People should be careful not to get between a mother bear and her cubs, however, Rabasco said.

If someone has questions or would like more information, call the DNR wildlife office in Park Rapids at 732-4153. Information is also available at under the hunting and trapping page.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561