The bear as state mammal

hamms_bear.JPG A bill has been filed at the Minnesota House of Representatives today to make the black bear the official state mammal.

As with many of these “official” designations, this one originates from a first-grade classroom, where a teacher recognized a teachable moment. The kids spent the first minutes of their class in Andover watching the “den cam” at the North American Bear Center.

Supporters claim the bill has bipartisan support and should become law. It’s for the kids, after all.

In matters of official mammals in Minnesota, that’s never worked so well.

According to the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, the white-tailed deer is the leader in failed attempts to name an official state mammal. Eight times deer fans have tried to make the deer the official mammal, eight times they’ve come up empty at the Legislature.

The eastern timber wolf has gotten support — only to be turned aside — six times. The last was in 2000, when some school kids voted on whether the wolf, deer, or gopher should be so honored.

The library also reveals that an effort was made in 1973 to make the wood tick the official state mammal. Combined with the official state bird — the loon — such a move would have made Minnesota the “loon-and-tick state,” according to the Pioneer Press.

  • Bob Moffitt

    This bill is going to bruin this state!

  • Kevin Watterson

    The last one of these that i recall making it all the way into law was the state apple bill in 2006. Later that year mail pieces showed up around the state criticizing GOP legislators for wasting time on it. I believe the pieces were funded by Education Minnesota. Go figure.

  • Bob Collins

    Right. Brian LeClaire’s and Mike Charron’s bill on behalf of the kids from Anderson Elementary in Bayport.

  • BenCh

    I remember hearing somewhere that the Goldfinch was the runner-up to the loon. Not sure where or why I heard it…

  • Bob Collins

    Several “state bird” bills were filed in the ’40s and ’50s for state bird, including the woodpecker and the goldfinch, and the scarlet tanenger, but only the loon got any love.

  • Bonnie

    What would be the harm? Actually, I need to research this more…but my daughter got a really old souvenir apron as a gift ( was purchased in an antique shop) and it has a black bear on it, and it has all of the other offical state “things” on it. So I am curious as to why this is. It was originally sold as a MN souvenir, and I believe dates back to the forties.

  • Bonnie
  • CHS

    Am I the only one that found the use of the image of the Hamm’s Bear somehow ironic?

  • Jim Shapiro

    Back when I was in the mind healing biz, I proposed to Governor Ramsey that the state nickname should be “Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Therapy Modalities.”

    Perhaps needless to say, the fishermen’s lobby had more influence than health care workers.

  • Sharon Carter

    Enough of this naming. It is a waste of the time of legislators and teaches children that the legislators have nothing more important to do. Our legislators have plenty to do if they would just do it.

  • Sharon Carter

    Enough of this naming. It is a waste of the time of legislators and teaches children that the legislators have nothing more important to do. Our legislators have plenty to do if they would just do it.

  • Nick Thielen

    Bear really, what about Gopher as in Gopher State … Minnesota is to Bear as Wisconsin is to naked mole rat … On second thought there are some naked mole rat like politians in Wisconsin ….

  • carolyn thomas

    I can not believe every person from the state don’t stand behind these 1st graders.they have worked so hard and long for this.and the teacher must love bears and the kids a lot.Please grown people for once,please help these kids.Bless you little ones.Our country needs kids like you

  • MOE

    I strongly support legislation to make the black bear the state mammal….These young children have learned so much and have work very hard…The citizens of Minnesota can be very very proud of their young citizens….Moe

  • Mary Auldrich

    Bless Dana Coleman and her 1st graders. What a great education tool Dana has provided for these kids. 6 and 7 year old children being taught how the government process works. Please get behind these kids and show them that the system can work. They have worked so hard for this, they deserve to have this bill heard. We need more teachers like Dana Coleman/ good luck class.

  • dotti

    I would like to applaud the students and the teacher responsible for educating these students. In an era when grown ups have no idea how their legislature is run, a group of students wants to not only LEARN, but be part of the process. Kudos to DC1♥ In the second year of this endeavor, a new crop of first graders are similarly learning about government (we called it “Civics”), about mathematics, language, science, art and more as a result of the opportunity to watch a bear. And last year’s first graders are still participating in efforts to get the bill passed. How many first graders YOU know, have stuck with anything for over a year?

    And the interest in Minnesota’s black bears have brought a SUBSTANTIAL amount of funds into the state as well as recognition worldwide. So, make the black bear the official mammal? I think it’s brilliant, appropriate AND another educational opportunity. If you’re willing to be educated…

  • JIll

    Dana Coleman has taught the 1st graders for two years all about, hibernation, seeing pregnant bears give birth live via web cam, hearing baby cubs in the den crying when mothers clean them,watching them come out of the den for the first time in the spring, food they eat, scat, bear markings, family breakup, mother bears losing her cubs (loss, grieving)! She has allowed her 1st graders an opportunity that 400 other teachers around the United States are doing as well…giving them the education on Black Bears! Black Bears are not the mean and ferocious mammals everybody (media) has made them out to be! Thank you, Dana and GOOD JOB KIDS, KEEP IT UP, WE NEED YOU FOR THE FUTURE!!

  • Clare

    Wonderful news about children getting involved with their local nature. I hope they succeed in their efforts. They certainly have shown their passion towards what they have learned. It’s exciting to read about – thank you for this article.

  • Kathy Hilles

    What a wonderful lesson Dana Coleman has put these 1st graders to put into work an idea. Watch to see how you follow a passion.Watch the steps it takes to get it done.I just hope that government process will prove you can stand for something & make a differance.I really hope they can tell their children Yes, I was part of making this happen.

  • Nancy

    I think making the black bear Minnesota’s state mammal is a wonderful idea. Thanks to the 1st graders in Dana Coleman’s classes to make this possible. What a great learning experience this has been for the children ! Our beautiful black bears aren’t the ferocious animals that the media has always made them out to be and it’s time for young and old to learn what they’re really like ! The children are learning about the government process, wildlife in our state and even math and reading all from following the bears via den cams that the North American Bear Center in Ely, MN has put in some of their research bear’s dens.

    Young and old alike can learn so very much from these den cams and what a wonderful representative our black bears would be for the state of Minnesota ! I remember the Hamm’s bear commercials and thought they were our state mammal !!

    I hope our state officials see fit to grant Dana’s classes efforts by naming the black bear our state mammal. Thanks to Dana for being an innovative and caring teacher.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Perhaps we should just unanimously declare

    “The Extremely Earnest Proponents of First Graders’ Rights to Name The State Mammal, However Illogical Their Suggestion May Be, Because They’re So Cute, And Learning Is A Good Thing!”

    as the state mammal. 🙂

  • Nancy

    I’m a Minnesotan, I’m a wildlife/animal lover and would be PROUD to have the black bear as our state mammal. Way to go kids and Dana Coleman. Thank you for your hard work in bringing this forward. I hope it passes!

  • Katie

    Some may say there could be other or even “better” suggestions for the mn state mammal. With that being said, who has stepped forward, gotten it in motion, educated students (residents of our state), children and adults around the country and abroad? There are bills that need to be presented and passed, yes. But also there are opportunities and responsibilities that are obligated to be recognized. As citizens and members of this great state of Minnesota, everyone, no matter what age, have the right and privilege to have someone fighting for what they truly are passionate about. Especially when it serves a vacant area that could serve as an educational opportunity for all people.

  • Syd

    I have been following this story for awhile and am so very proud of these first graders. They have learned so much about government process and found something fabulous to be so passionate about. Good luck to Dana Coleman’s class – I am behind you!

  • Don

    Education is so important in today’s world. What better way to teach children about how the government works than to have them so involved in getting the black bear as Minnesota’s state mammal. The black bear is teaching these kids so much in some classrooms and is also a starting point to keep them interested in math, science an other subjects. Kids are our future, so lets show them we want them involved in government an appreciate their efforts by making the black bear our state mammal !

  • michele

    I think it’s wonderful that Dana and the kids have been watching the webcams for the past two years..Her kids have learned so much,over 500 classrooms are now learning across the country about this magnificent animal..the kids have worked very hard on this effort,and should be able to get this bill passed.. understanding the black bear,is the only way to learn how to co-exist,and the only way to do that is through education,please let them be the bears voice,and make the black bear Minnesota’s state mammal!

  • tom

    Great to see children doing something positive in today’s world ! What a great idea ”’FROM THE KIDS”’ to have the black bear the state mammal. The idea should be supported an the black bear should be the state mammal!

  • Joyce

    What a wonderful way for children to learn — not only about bears — but about the legislative process. Ms. Coleman has taken the time to really care about what children are learning and more importantly, she listened to them, and thus the desire to make the bear the Minnesota State Mammal. This is a bi-partisan bill and should not be hard to get passed. I hope our legislature takes notice of the importance of educating our youth in this most important decision this year. These are the problem solvers of our future and this is an invaluable lesson on how they will learn how to make a difference. The bear is a perfect choice for our Minnesota State Mammal. Thank you.

  • Hollie

    As a parent of one of Dana’s first grade students this year, I cannot even begin to tell you what an AMAZING learning adventure this has been for her kids in 1DC! What a fantastic opportunity to teach the children to realize that if there is something that you are passionate about or want to change, you need to study and learn about it, work hard towards your goal, and never loose focus, even when there are those out there that are negative about what you are doing. I think that the comments by S.C. in this thread of comments is absolutely wrong and is sad for me to see. It is not teaching the kids that the legislators have nothing to do…in fact, just the opposite. It has shown them that our legislators work very hard, and that these kids (and their wonderful teacher), have to work hard in order to make this a reality. This is a great lesson not only in working towards a goal, but also a lesson on how our government works. These kids have become so invested in this project, and are truly blessed to have Dana as their teacher this year. She is truly teaching them lifelong lessons that they will NEVER forget!

  • Hollie

    As a parent of one of Dana’s first grade students this year, I cannot even begin to tell you what an AMAZING learning adventure this has been for her kids in 1DC! What a fantastic opportunity to teach the children to realize that if there is something that you are passionate about or want to change, you need to study and learn about it, work hard towards your goal, and never loose focus, even when there are those out there that are negative about what you are doing. I think that the comments by S.C. in this thread of comments is absolutely wrong and is sad for me to see. It is not teaching the kids that the legislators have nothing to do…in fact, just the opposite. It has shown them that our legislators work very hard, and that these kids (and their wonderful teacher), have to work hard in order to make this a reality. This is a great lesson not only in working towards a goal, but also a lesson on how our government works. These kids have become so invested in this project, and are truly blessed to have Dana as their teacher this year. She is truly teaching them lifelong lessons that they will NEVER forget!