Around Cook County
There have been a number of unwelcome interactions with bear at local campgrounds over the last month, warranting a mention in Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Conservation Officer report and a U.S. Forest Service “Special Bear Alert.” Bears determined to be “bothersome” have been spotted in the Clearwater Lake area in Grand Marais, the Kimball Lake campground in Grand Marais and at the east end of Caribou Lake have been visiting campsites and portages.
The Forest Service issued the bear alert for Clearwater Lake and the east end of Caribou Lake.
DNR Conservation Officer Darin Fagerman reported that he had assisted campers with an aggressive bear at Kimball Lake campground. The campers said that the bear wouldn’t let them pack up and leave. Every time they got out of their vehicle to pack up, the bear charged in and got up on its hind legs to chase the campers back to their vehicle. The CO and a Cook County deputy responded to help the men pack up and go to another campground.
Reached by phone a few days later, CO Fagerman said this is the same location where a local waster hauler was chased around his truck last year.
Fagerman said it was a small bear and it has not bothered other campers at Kimball Lake, including one staying there at the time of the incident. The second group had a dog, Fagerman said, so that may have discouraged the bear from approaching that campsite.
The Forest Service alert reminds forest visitors to watch for signs of bear activity in places where food may be available. The alert reminds visitors to follow bear country guidelines such as using bear resistant food containers, storing food in car trunk, never leaving food unattended, and not storing food in tents. The Forest Service also advises campers—especially those in remote or wilderness campsites—to hang food packs in nearby trees properly.
A long-term planning workshop was held on July 22 by the Cook County Historical Society to evaluate best future uses of the historic properties under its care. Participants toured the Lighthouse Keeper's Museum, Chippewa City Church, Bally Blacksmith Shop and the 1930s Fish House Replica with the fishing tug Neegee.
From now through August 4, community members and visitors are invited to contribute their comments and ideas at the Lighthouse Keeper's Museum in downtown Grand Marais. Informational materials, site plans, and photographs will be on display to help envision the possibilities.
Three of the sites under consideration—the blacksmith shop, church and museum—are on the National Historic Register. The mission of the Cook County Historical Society is to preserve them and their history.
Funding for this project is made possible by a grant from Lake Superior Coastal Program.
Long-term planning is being facilitated by architect Richard Gilyard and designer Leah Thomas. The public is invited to help the historical society envision the greatest potential for these extraordinary, historic properties.
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. and is located at 8 South Broadway.
A search is under way for a missing Grand Marais man, Paul Brandt, 82, of Grand Marais. Brandt went blueberry picking up the Gunflint Trail on Thursday afternoon and did not return home. He was picking blueberries in the area south of the U.S. Forest Service Seagull Guard Station. His vehicle was found in that vicinity.
According to Cook County Law Enforcement, Brandt is 6’1, 190 pounds and has gray hair and blue eyes. He wears glasses. It is not known what he is wearing.
Brandt is described as in good health and “pretty fit.” Brandt lives on the Gunflint Trail and it is unusual for him not to return home.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Cook County Search and Rescue, the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department, US Forest Service and friends and relatives have been searching for Brandt since the initial call at 9:40 p.m. on Thursday, August 1. Also assisting in the search is the Minnesota State Patrol and search dogs with Central Lakes Search and Rescue.
The moose calf morbidity study begun in May 2013 with 49 calves captured and collared with GPS homing devices by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) workers now show there are only 15 calves left to track.
But the high rate of mortality has slowed down, said research scientist Glenn DelGiudice, in charge of the study.
“The last calf mortality was July 2, a bear-kill. Calf mortality has slowed down quite a bit since the last two weeks of June,” said Dr. DelGiudice.
As of July 21, the preliminary causes of natural mortality included: two cases of natural abandonment; one abandonment of unknown cause; one drowning; four bear kills; eight wolf kills; and three probable wolf-kills.
Four calves have slipped their collars and may be okay.
A normal calf mortality rate is 60 percent, but scientists have noted that in recent years calf mortality has grown to 70 to 80 percent in Minnesota, not enough to sustain the moose herd. Seemingly healthy adults are also dropping dead, and researchers are in a race to figure out what is causing moose to die at such an alarming rate.
In Northern Minnesota moose have declined from more than 8,600 in 2006 to less than 3,000 last year. In Northwestern Minnesota there are fewer than 20 moose left from a herd of over 4,000 in the mid-80s.
This calf morbidly study dovetails with a larger ongoing study of GPS-collared adult moose and is also related to several insect studies which should help scientists put the pieces of the puzzle together so they can form a picture of what is causing the moose to disappear.
Helping the DNR in this wide-ranging study is the 1854 Treaty Authority, Fond du Lac, and Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the U.S. Forest Service and the University of Minnesota College of veterinary medicine.
At the July 23 county board meeting, the board approved three interim use permits allowing RVs for habitation: Chris and Kenya Jahnke on Camp 20 Road, Randi Nelson on County Road 8, and Evan and Nancy Anderson on Lake Superior in Schroeder.
While the Planning Commission had recommended permits for two, three, and four years, respectively, the county board approved two years for each. All three were renewals.
County ordinance also allows conditional use permits for long-term use of RVs on permanent foundations. Commissioner Sue Hakes expressed concern about property values being reduced when RVs are placed on lakeshore properties, however.