Don't feed the bears!
Nuisance bears—bruins that wander into people’s yards, getting into garbage cans, knocking down bird feeders and munching apples from trees—are not that unusual in Cook County. However, this year there seems to be an increase in bear encounters right inside the city of Grand Marais. Cook County Law Enforcement received several “bear problem” calls from the Grand Marais Rec. Park campground and one from Harbor Light Supper Club last week.
The first incident was at about 1 a.m. on Friday, August 3 on a tent camping site near Sweetheart’s Bluff. According to Grand Marais Recreation Park Manager Dave Tersteeg, a camper reported that a bear ripped the side of her tent, reached in and grabbed a bag of cookies.
A few hours later, at 10:30 p.m., another camper called about a bear tipping over garbage cans and going through coolers. Tersteeg said that was also in the primitive camping area, where there are trashcans instead of Dumpsters. “We haven’t had any problems with bear getting in our Dumpsters,” said Tersteeg, adding, “Yet. We hope that doesn’t happen.”
Since then there have been other late night visitors to the campground, this time a mother and cub. Coolers that had been left out have been tipped over and chewed on, said Tersteeg.
Tersteeg said the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) had been contacted and is monitoring the situation. He said cautionary signs have been posted throughout the campground. The signs warn of bear activity in the park and advise: Keep a clean campsite. Do not leave food out overnight. Keep food in car or trailer.
Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Darin Fagerman has made several trips through the campground, sharing the same advice—keep a clean campsite and keep food inside vehicles.
“We call these nuisance bear problems, but it really is a nuisance people problem. If they find food, they will keep coming back. We ask people to take down bird feeders, lock up dog food and barbecue grills in the garage, and put camping food in the car. So to speak, don’t put apple pies in the window and expect bears to leave it alone,” said Fagerman.
Fagerman added, “People think that bears can just be tranquilized and moved, but that just creates a problem elsewhere. Unfortunately that doesn’t work, once they associate people with food, they keep coming back. If the bears continue to be a problem, they will have to be shot.”
“It’s a last resort and we don’t want to do it,” said CO Fagerman.