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.