These animals help researchers collect valuable data about Minnesota’s black bear population, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
DNR researchers are monitoring about 30 radio-collared black bears, most of them in northwestern Minnesota near Thief Lake, New Main, Twin Lakes, Pelan, Beaches Lake, Skull Lake and Caribou wildlife management areas as well as the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge.
Additional radio-collared bears reside in and around the Chippewa National Forest, Camp Ripley, Cloquet Forestry Station and Voyageurs National Park.
Bear research also is being conducted between Ely and Tower in approximately 10 townships near the Eagles Nest chain of lakes in northern St. Louis County.
In this area, bears may have multi-colored streamers attached to the collars.
The DNR is asking hunters to pay particular attention to bears in this area to avoid shooting a radio-collared bear.
“Hunters near these areas should be especially vigilant for collared bears,” said Dave Garshelis, DNR bear research biologist. “But bears, especially those that live at the edge of Minnesota’s bear range, travel widely looking for food in the fall. They may move up to 50 miles away from their normal summer home range.”
Most of the monitored bears are fitted with highly visible blaze orange colored collars.
Many of the collars contain global positioning devices that collect and store data that is downloaded when researchers visit the bears in their winter dens.
Photos are available on the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov/bear to help hunters identify radio-collared bears.
“Hunters should find other bears to harvest,” Garshelis said. “Researchers have invested an enormous amount of time and expense in these individual bears, and the data stored in their collars is extremely valuable for monitoring the dynamics of our bear population.”
DNR officials recognize that a hunter may not be able to see a radio collar in some situations.
Taking a bear with a radio collar is legal unless the bear is accompanied by a researcher who has identified the bear to the hunter as a research animal.
“We’re simply asking hunters to cooperate with research efforts, which provides information that helps wildlife professionals monitor and manage the bear population,” Garshelis said. “Ultimately much of this information benefits hunters as well as researchers.”
Any hunters who do shoot collared bears should call the DNR Wildlife Research Office in Grand Rapids at 218-327-4146 or 218-327-4133.