Researchers with the state Department of Natural Resources monitor about 35 radio-collared black bears in northern Minnesota, and they’re asking people heading out for the bear hunting opener Sept. 1 to be careful not to shoot them.
Most of the radio-collared bears are in northwest Minnesota, especially near Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area and the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge. But researchers are also keeping track of bears in the Chippewa National Forest, Voyageurs National Park, Camp Ripley, the Cloquet Forestry Station and near the Eagles Nest chain of lakes in northern St. Louis County.
The bears are marked with large colorful ear tags or colorful streamers.
DNR bear research biologist Dave Garshelis said he hopes hunters will be especially vigilant, because the state has a lot of money invested in the collared bears.
“These animals provide long-term data on reproduction and habitat use that is invaluable for bear management across the state,” Garshelis said. “Researchers have invested an enormous amount of time and expense in these individuals.”
Many of the collars have global positioning units that collect and store data, which is downloaded by researchers when they visit the bears in their dens.
Shooting a collared bear isn’t necessarily illegal. DNR officials say they recognize that hunters might not see a tag or collar in some situations.
Hunters who accidentally shoot a collared bear should call the DNR’s Wildlife Research office in Grand Rapids at 218-327-4146.