I have had several close encounters with bears. They aren't as cuddly as Yogi, clumsy as Winnie-the-Pooh, or civic-minded as Smokey. A bear tore through a family member's cabin some years back. It raided the fridge and knocked over paint cans and tracked footprints throughout the home.

One time a bear tried to bite its way through our hard plastic cooler. We now have the only cooler with teeth punctures in the neighborhood. A bear busted through the window of my brother-in-law's vehicle to munch on boxes of macaroni and cheese.

Steele County Fair
Roy Koenig/TSM
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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants to assist you in avoiding this type of unwelcome wildlife encounter. "Please take the time now to remove or secure anything that could attract a bear. Prevention is the key. Once a bear finds a food source, it will likely return again," states Eric Nelson, DNR wildlife damage program supervisor, in a news release.

The DNR advises residents, "Do not leave food from barbeques and picnics outdoors, especially overnight. Standard coolers are not bear-proof." (I wish I had known that.)

If you like to feed the birds between April and November, "hang birdfeeders 10 feet up and four feet out from the nearest trees...Store pet food inside and feed pets inside."

Minnesota only has black bears. The DNR notes, "Bears are more common in the forested region of northern Minnesota but can live anywhere in the state if they find an area of suitable habitat."

Bears are usually shy and will flee around people, "Never approach or try to pet a bear. Injury to people is rare, but bears are potentially dangerous because of their size, strength and speed."

Black Bear Photo from MnDNR Website.
Black Bear Photo from MnDNR Website.
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