A Mainstreet Radio special broadcast from the International Wolf Center in Ely. A discussion about bears with Dave Garshelis, of DNR; Lynn Rogers; and Bill Lea, of American Bear Association, discuss bears. Program also includes a report from MPR's Leif Enger.
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(00:00:07) Good afternoon, and Welcome to our special Main Street broadcast from the International Wolf Center in Ely. I'm Rachel riebe. We've traveled up to Minnesota's Northeastern corner to discuss two of the state's most popular wild creatures last hour. We talked about wolves and now we're turning our attention to Bears. The black bear is hot just asked the Minnesota Science Museum current host of bears the most popular traveling exhibit its ever hosted and just ask the Department of Natural Resources, which in recent years has dealt with record numbers of bear sightings and nuisance reports. In fact is the bear population continues to rise Wildlife managers are asking themselves. If they're still in control of these usually reclusive animals. We have a trio of black bear experts with us this afternoon at Ely to answer your bear questions, but first this report from Main Street radios life anger. (00:01:00) In the 1970s bear hunting got so popular the DNR thought it had another Timberwolf on its hands a large reclusive mammal being driven. If not to Extinction at (00:01:10) least two scarcity. (00:01:11) So in 1982 with about 8,000 Bears left (00:01:15) state wildlife managers decided to reduce the number of hunting (00:01:19) permits. If they could have picked ahead to 1999. They might have done the opposite. We'd probably have to harvest about 6,000 just to stabilize the population now DNR bear biologist, Dave Garcia Ellis has (00:01:33) watched the animals stunning Resurgence. Like (00:01:36) timber wolves Bears have expanded their range south and west into cornfield country (00:01:41) and sometimes into Suburban trashcan (00:01:43) Country. Minnesota Bears also have bigger than (00:01:46) average family's three Cubs is normal here, but gosh Ella says at the heart of the bear Revival (00:01:52) is a change in humans sort of used to be that bears are of varmint. And if there was a bear round, you just kill it in his nose. Students asked about that. Most people don't feel very comfortable with that anymore and most people will call the DNR ask for advice. And even if the advice is well, maybe you have to kill it. A lot of people still don't want to do that. I think that mentality has changed certainly in the last 20 or 30 years. It's not like the bear ever had the ruinous PR wolves once endured Bears both powerful and clownish have been stumping around in (00:02:26) American popular culture since America got a popular culture. (00:02:30) Remember only you can prevent forest fires. (00:02:37) I'm smarter than the average bear. (00:02:40) In fact Bears have been seen as cuddly since long before Teddy Roosevelt's Mercy to a hunted Cub gave us the world's raining currency of comfort. Josh Ellis says even as research yields new insights into the brew and mind part of the Intrigue of bears may be traced to mythology thousands of years old. (00:02:58) They do have this appearance they have five fingers and five toes and when they stand up there, you know, they're about our height and and they look kind of like us and particularly, you know, when you take the skin off a bear and it really does kind of look like a person is all this folklore about, you know, sort of people going down into dens with bears and people kind of marrying bears and being in this kind of underground Bear World and going back and forth between the (00:03:26) human world and the Bear World (00:03:30) Lately, it's been the the dopey-looking bear so used to do a lot of the more realistic serious pairs like this Redwood piece, but just recently these Whimsical Bears have really taken off (00:03:43) Clover looter shows off dozens of life-sized chainsaw sculptures and the yard of her dad's business on the tourists trip north of Brainerd. Her dad age a looter was (00:03:52) 1988 National chainsaw carving (00:03:54) Champion the sculptures in the yard. 90% Bears. (00:03:58) What do you think? It is about a bear that has that sort of appeal? (00:04:01) I don't know. I can't think it's kind of like having a really big dog that makes any sense. You take a big dog for a walk you get more looks and you feel better and you know, just something about having something big and powerful but most of these Bears have big Dopey looking faces and so they're making powerful but friendly kind of like my dad. (00:04:22) By the late 80s the DNR was no longer worried about black bears. In fact, they wanted to level them off a (00:04:28) little say at about 10,000 which is coincidentally about as many as AJ (00:04:33) looter has carved again. If only they could have peaked ahead. The nearest you'll get to marrying a bear these days is a visit to the Vince shooty (00:04:44) Wildlife Sanctuary from the Twin Cities Drive North to Virginia. Then cook (00:04:49) fill with gas and then Drive North some more. The first person you'll see at the sanctuary is in turn Jason pouts one of his jobs is to protect cars and the gravel parking lot from playful Bears which explains the bucket. He's (00:05:04) carrying sometimes bear see cars as their toys or person on toys because they like to be on top of things. So get other perspectives, you know, well we do is we put out a buckets of Scat which you know other Bears don't like it works as a good bear deterrent the shootie sanctuary is a (00:05:19) peculiar hybrid of Nature park and zoo. It's a clearing in the woods 200 yards in diameter with a few RVs for the volunteers and dozens of stumps where food is laid out for the Bears. There are far more bears than (00:05:32) volunteers never let your guard down. Don't get the impression that these bears are tame (00:05:37) Clary Lee a co-founder with her husband of the American Bar Association issues safety tips to a (00:05:43) visitor should one approach you what you need to do is put your arms up make yourself look bigger talk to the bear talk firmly and soft. And completely move back. The (00:05:56) sanctuary is founder. Vince shootie was a logger who's can't boasted such tempting food. It was persistently (00:06:02) rated by black bears (00:06:04) by 1952 shoot. He had shot so many of them he was beginning to feel regret. So he put away his rifle and started putting out doughnuts a few years ago. He turned over the sanctuary to the association which has continued against convention to feed the Bears. (00:06:19) I don't think the range is going to like this Yogi. (00:06:22) We do not promote. The feeding of wild bears with a associate food with people now, you're wondering why in the world are we feeding while the reason is is there's almost a 50 year history of feeding at this side and what in (00:06:33) the defensive bear feeding tops clear real? He's talking points, whether a loan with a reporter or with a crowd of 50 on the sanctuaries viewing platform, but few of the sanctuaries 20,000 annual visitors are bothered by the practice. In fact many bring scraps or bags of dog food to help (00:06:49) out. I love the gentleness. The mysteriousness of them. Oh, they're not mysterious. I think everybody looks at that remembers their childhood when they were a child and they had a teddy bear and a look at these back bears and they think their child is like, oh, I wish I could wanna hug it and my fiance says don't try (00:07:06) below the platform a dozen Bears wander the clearing as if no one were watching most are black a few our cinnamon or chocolate a heavy brown bear known as Carl has curled up with a stash of shell peanuts brought (00:07:18) by visitor. (00:07:24) At last count Minnesota was home to 27,000 Bears Hunters here. Now take more bear than in any other state yet. The DNR keeps revising its maximum population goal upward and the Bears keep barging past. It biologists Dave Garcia Ellis says For Better or Worse black bears have outgrown efforts to control (00:07:44) them. There's a point where your government Department of Natural Resources cannot be responsible for handling the oldest population. I mean, it's like well we tried but it's just not possible and maybe we shouldn't be looking to DNR to manage something like this this closely (00:08:06) DNR bear biologist Dave Garcia Alice laughs anger, Minnesota Public (00:08:10) Radio. You're listening to a special Main Street broadcast from the International Wolf Center in Ely. I'm Rachel rebe and joining me or wildlife biologist Lynn Rogers who studied black bears for over 30 years. Dave Garcia has the bear project leader from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Bill Lee president of the American Bar Association, which operates the Vince shootie Wildlife Sanctuary. Good afternoon. Gentlemen, Welcome to our program listeners. You can join our conversation by calling us at one eight hundred five three 75252 the number again 1-800-555-9408 has lots of their Bears until they invade their yard their campsite or their Farm. They've got shells how many more bears do you think Minnesota can handle (00:08:57) it's a difficult question. Basically the population. What we estimate now is about 27,000 Bears increasing at about 7% a year doubling every eight or ten years. People are going to have to put up with it basically because this is what we're stuck with. We can't really reduce the population. And and when you say how many can we handle it's just basically a public attitude towards pairs. I think most people have a favorable attitude towards payers, but there's probably some things we could do better to keep bears away from people and we could tolerate more bears if people would do those simple things like bringing your bird feeder during the summer and not keep out garbage during the summer (00:09:41) when Rogers do you think attitudes towards Bears change in the 30 years since you've been working with them? (00:09:46) Yes, absolutely in what way well when I when I first started working with them is actually in Michigan catching and moving nuisance Bears. I heard of everybody thought of bears is dangerous animals and through the study through my study and and getting things out through the media and through a general better attitude towards predators in general across the country. Bears aren't as feared as they were and rightfully not Soul black bears have killed about 40 people this Century across North America, but when we compare that to other causes of death, I'll like for each person killed by a black bear 374 are killed by lightning 90,000 by homicide hundred ninety thousand by traffic deaths black bears are very minor cause of mortality and one of the biggest fears that people have is mothers with Cubs (00:10:47) and as we've heard that over and over again, don't go near a bear with (00:10:51) Cubs. Yes, and when I started studying Bears, that's one of the things I thought I knew because I'd heard that from the time. I was little don't get between a mother and her Cubs, but nobody has ever been killed by a mother black bear. This whole idea comes from grizzly bears where 70% of the killings by grizzly bears are by mothers with columns and grizzly. There's of killed while I said 40 people by black bears across the country and a century in this Century grizzly bears. It's 80 people this Century across North America with only a small percentage of the number of grizzly bears compared to black bears. (00:11:28) So you're saying that we don't need to fear a mother black bear and her Cubs. (00:11:32) Not really it was routine on my project to catch mother's I mean catch comes right in front of their mothers. In fact, it was routine. If I'd be driving down the road Cubs are so valuable for the research that I would just hit the brakes jump out chase the Cubs to the nearest tree. They go up the tree grabbed the Cubs, they'd be screaming in my hand. I've never been attacked and I did this many times and nobody's ever been killed by another black bear. (00:12:01) Let's go to our phone lines are numbers one eight hundred five three seven 52 52 and we have lots of people standing by on the telephone we go first to to harbors where Gordon is on the phone. Good afternoon, Gordon welcome. Main (00:12:12) Street for having me I would just like to make the comment that you know with a lot of wildlife species. I don't think it's necessarily a number of overpopulation of the animals but overpopulation of people it seems our population keeps keeps doubling every 50 or 60 years and is pushing these animals into marginal habitats or increasing the amount of conflict we have with them there seems to be no no discussion in this in this country as to what our ultimate population limit should be. I guess that would be my comment. I mean, I have no problem with hunting bears, you know, I'm a Hunter myself. But you know, I just see more and more development and more and more people whether it's on the roads are in the woods at some point, you know, something has to give that's just my comment. (00:12:57) Thank you for your comment Gordon Dave. We think of Northeastern Minnesota. Like this is bear Central in Minnesota and people that hate to leave here without having at least one sighting of a black bear / vacation, but you told me actually the black bear has really expanded its range and it's doing very well way out of the North Woods. (00:13:17) That's right. Although we think of kind of the Northwoods as I guess Prime bear habitat beers do great in places that people don't even picture seen a bears like a little wooden woodlots near cornfields. In fact cornfield or a lot better food source for Bears than would be the Northwoods up here. I mean, it's a very rich food source and bear reproduction for those bears that live around cornfields far exceeds the reproduction of bears that live in this area of northern Minnesota. (00:13:47) In fact like to add to that that the bear habitat does left in North America is the habitat that did not did not make it as Farmland anything that was good for I'm laying or cities has been turned over to people use and our recreational areas across the country are the less fertile areas. So we've relegated Bears to the areas where it's hardest for them to make a living. (00:14:10) What's the territory up near or where you have your Refuge? (00:14:15) What is the (00:14:16) territory woodsy? Oh, yeah, definitely. (00:14:18) It's North Woods. And Vince was a logger and the vent shootie Wildlife Sanctuary Was An Old Logging Camp. So we're in the heart of the North Woods heavily timbered. (00:14:30) Have you seen a change in the last number of years about the number of bears coming in to be fed life talked in his report? Maybe 50 bears were there on a single day. Have you seen the numbers change as we see the population increase and increase actually we have we've (00:14:46) only been going there since 93 in it and have operated Sanctuary since 95 and our numbers really haven't changed that much we have about 60 to 80 different bears that come in a year and I believe that the reason we haven't seen A change is that at the sanctuary we have reached our social carrying capacity. So they'll only tolerate so many and and we're at that level and (00:15:12) so we haven't seen a (00:15:13) this, you know big increase in the number of bears. At least since 93 since we've been coming up here. (00:15:20) Thank you. Our number one eight hundred five three 75252 we go to Marty in northern, Wisconsin. Good afternoon, Marty. Welcome to Main (00:15:29) Street. Thank you very much. I have two questions one for Lynn and then to for Dave and Bill then I'm wondering if you have if there's any explanation why the mama bears are having bigger Broods it we have friends who have bears in their backyard a lot and she they generally come by with three Cubs a year. Also if there's any biological reason for that and then here in northern Wisconsin Bear can be hunted with dogs. I don't believe that's legal anymore in Minnesota for those who aren't familiar with this practice hounds are fit with radio collars. They're sent out into the woods to track down and Chase a bear the hunters remain in their trucks and drive up and down. Roads with a receiver following the direction of the dogs when they finally determine that the dog has tree door stop the bear hunters get out of their trucks. They walk into the woods. They find the treed bear shoot it out of the tree. Sometimes the bear will die. Sometimes it won't then it gets shot again or it gets in a tangle with the dogs. Ethically. It just seems pretty barbaric and I'm just very curious about what the DNR representative and the gentleman from the bear Association think of this practice of hunting bear. (00:16:55) Let's start with that question first and we'll go back to the question of the bigger Broods Dave. Can you hunt bear with dogs in (00:17:01) Minnesota know it's illegal in Minnesota. But like the the caller says it is legal in Wisconsin and there are other states that it is legal in as well. And it's just basically not a tradition in Minnesota those States that have it as a legal hunting method it's been a tradition and that's we can argue the ethics of hunting in Minnesota most hunters use bait where they put out a pile of bait before the season starts attractive there and then eventually shoot the bear usually very early in the season in the first couple of days and a lot of people would say that is also an ethical or barbaric but it has developed as a tradition here. (00:17:42) So people here can stomach that putting bait out and then shooting the bear although they may say dogs radio collars. How terrible so it's what we're used to it's what we will (00:17:55) accept it is it's what you're used to in the same thing with deer hunting, you know, there's some states that use bait, you know to hunt deer and and here people would say, oh, you can't hunt deer over bait, you know that that's ridiculous (00:18:06) got any comments you have I would say that the American Bar Association takes a neutral stance on Hunting issues. We have both hunters and non-hunters in our organization. And we think it's a personal choice and our philosophy. Is that both Hunter and non Hunter benefits by becoming more knowledgeable and respecting the black bear and that's what we concentrated on education. Well Bill if I was a bear hunter and I managed to get a license the first place I'd be heading is right outside the Refuge in or is that a problem? Do you have people trying to hunt the land adjacent you man 50 Bears passing back and forth for lunch and dinner would really be attractive to a hunter. Well, fortunately most hunters are very ethical. And in (00:18:55) fact, we find that when Hunters find (00:18:58) out that that has happened (00:19:01) they are the most irate about it. (00:19:04) So it is a problem. We have lost some bears. (00:19:09) It's a very it's a small percentage of people that would ever do that. And what we're hoping is that that both Hunters are all hunters will realize the positives of learning about black bears and education about black bears and that there would be some peer pressure of those few that are that are unethical that would come in and then hunt right next to the sanctuary (00:19:32) Len Rogers. Let's answer now. The her first question was are the birds getting bigger. We always think Mother Bear two Cubs Nash would be thinking Mother Bear three Cubs as a norm. (00:19:43) No, I don't think they have gotten bigger. It's just that we have always thought that two Cubs has a normal litter size for a bear because that's the number that was in the Walt Disney movies that a lot of us learned about bears from (00:19:54) okay. So that's where I got my (00:19:55) education and and that and out west where those movies were made to Cubs is the norm but in the East where there's a richer food supply they've evolved to hire litter size the More litter size throughout the East is 3 in Minnesota does not have the highest reproductive rate. That would be like in Pennsylvania where they have so many kinds of Oak and beech nuts and Hickory nuts such a rich food supply that they can mature sooner reproduction reproduce more successfully and there many of the Cubs have even for and sometimes five and in a litter (00:20:30) so we're still two on the average in Minnesota debut agree with that. We're (00:20:36) no actually lends correct here that that there are more three cup Liners in Minnesota than to and and Minnesota would be classified as an Eastern State in this kind of break down across the u.s. If you draw a line from Minnesota down to Texas and you go east from there those States tend to have higher letters which average somewhere around to and it between two and a half and three and the the states west of that tend to have smaller letters averaging much closer to 2. (00:21:04) We are broadcasting from the International Wolf Center in Ely and we have a live audience this afternoon in our auditorium at the Wolf Center life here in our audience. (00:21:14) I'm here with my Britt Ellis who has a question on the possible establishment of a bear Center, which has been the subject of considerable debate. (00:21:26) Thank you Len Rogers. I understand that you would like to bring a bear Center for research and education here to Ely. And my question is why you feel that this would be the best place to have such a center as opposed to other places. (00:21:43) Oh, thank you. Oh, thank you. Yes. The reason for the bear Center is like she said research and education and Rehabilitation. We want to tell people about bears learn more about bears. And if any Cubs are orphaned we want to help them get back into the wild. And the reason we think that Ali is the best place for that is we are here the gateway to the Boundary Waters canoe area 300 thousand people come through Ely each summer and sixty thousand souls are bound for The Boundary Waters canoe area and they want to know about bears when they're going to be going out into the Wilderness and possibly encountering beers. And what's (00:22:23) the status of the bear center. Now, is it up and running? Are you? Electing money has it been established as where you at the (00:22:29) process. We're at the planning stage right now and the the LCM are the legislative Commission on Minnesota resources had scheduled $80,000 for us, but we had such a good idea that other cities decided. They wanted to have a bear Center to and there was some controversy over should the money go to Ely or should it go to some other city and the legislature then didn't want to make that decision. So they've turned that over to the DNR to decide where should the barycentre be and we're right now right now the DNR is deciding what kind of process to use to make that decision? (00:23:07) They've got shells you look confused. You don't think the DNR is working on it at this point never heard of that (00:23:11) length at the DNR has anything to do with a bear Center? And in fact the way this thing started was not an idea from Ely but rather there was a A bear Center or Bear (00:23:23) exhibit. That's the one we talked about in the produced piece this huge Bear exhibit that's been so pop that (00:23:28) started with the science museum just as the Wolf Center started with the wolf exhibit from the Science Museum and and that exhibit now has sort of run its course and they're looking for a permanent home for that exhibit and they want to sell that exhibit to some City or some place for permanent exhibition and there are some some places that have started to become interested in that and our bidding on it. And one of the places for example is Yellowstone National Park and the exhibit has you know about two-thirds of it is brown grizzly bear type things and about one-third of it is black bear and for you know, one question is whether that exhibit should stay in Minnesota and then if it does stay in Minnesota, should it be in Ely or there are a number of other cities that are interested in at the DNR is not involved in this as far as I know this decision at all. (00:24:23) Maybe Davis working with bears where he should be and that's very good and is why he hasn't heard about it, but we have just received a letter from the commissioner's office in the DNR that they are trying to develop the process where bite to decide this thing that was dumped in their lap by the legislature and the question of whether that that exhibit should stay in Minnesota or not. I think most people in the room here from Minnesota would agree that it should be in Minnesota for one reason that I was a scientific adviser on that project and the black bear portion of it. It represents research during the right here in Minnesota. In fact right here around Ely it the background photos in that thing R eally scenes and all and (00:25:13) so that makes sense to you that it should be in Ely. We're going to continue this conversation. You're listening to a special Main Street radio broadcast from the International Wolf Center. Healy I'm Rachel read be we're talking about black bears one of the biggest and most loved creatures in the forest my guest Dave garcelle a spoolie and Lynn Rogers mpr's Main Street radio coverage of rural issues is supported by the blandin foundation committed to strengthening communities through grant-making leadership training and convening will be back with more of Main Street after look at news and (00:25:43) weather The New York Times calls Francois truffaut one of the most lyrical filmmakers of our time find out why beginning Friday the Oak Street Cinema proudly presents the complete truffaut film series a retrospective of 23 films from the director who helped create the French new wave of the 50s and 60s and turned the film industry on its ear for information call the Oak Street Cinema at 6123313134 MPR members bring a friend and get two for one (00:26:12) tickets. With news from Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Greta Cunningham US House leaders are maneuvering to bring a patient's Bill of Rights directly to the house floor by passing committees that have failed to produce legislation. The move comes as two surveys find patients and doctors reporting widespread trouble getting needed care from hmos According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey nearly nine and ten doctors reported frustration in dealing with managed care plans. Although the survey also has found that doctors regularly step in to fight for care. They believe is needed. The Senate is opening its debate on a republican plan to cut taxes by almost eight hundred billion dollars over the next decade President Clinton promises to veto the Republican plan. If it reaches his desk in its present form some Democrats suggest a 500 billion dollar cut would be both politically and physically more reasonable but Clinton aides say he'd reject that one as well Surgeon General David sacker call suicide a serious Public Health threat and he's launching a nationwide education effort to fight the problem report. Today by satcher and Tipper Gore urges school counselors parents and even hairdressers to recognize people at risk and get help the report shows white men 65 and older are the most likely to commit suicide. It also shows. The suicide rate has doubled since 1980 among children between 10 and 14 years of age in Regional news. Minnesota State Fair officials have decided not to recycle polystyrene cups used by fairgoers at this year's State Fair. Spokesman. Jerry Hammer says the fair spent $60,000 recycling cups last year and only got back $1,100 on the cups instead cups used during this year's Fair will be taken to a northern states power company Plant to be burned as fuel. There is a heat advisory in effect for the Southeastern portion of the state this afternoon through tomorrow. It will be very warm today throughout the state of Minnesota with high temperatures from 85 in the north to 95 in the South. There's also a chance of an afternoon thunderstorm Statewide checking current conditions Rochester report sunshine and 81. It's sunny and Cloud in 83 International Falls reports sunny skies and 79 and in the Twin Cities Sunshine a temperature of 85 Degrees. That's a look at the latest news. I'm Greta Cunningham. Welcome back to this Main Street special on black bears were broadcasting live from the International Wolf Center in Ely. I'm Rachel re be my guests are Bill Lee president of the American Bar Association Dave garcelle is fair project leader for the Department of Natural Resources and bear research and Wildlife biologists Lynn Rogers. Our phone lines are open for your questions and comments. You can call us at one eight hundred five three 75252 one eight hundred five three seven 52 52 and we go right away back to the phones. Marge is an islet. She's on the telephone. Good afternoon, March. Welcome to Main (00:28:59) Street. Yes, good afternoon. My husband and I built a home last year on 40 acres south of Ely and because of our own stupidity. We had our first encounter with a beautiful black bear. He was caught one night in my sunflower Barrel on my porch and needless to say my husband standing in his underwear are yelling at him to get off his porch did not deter him and by his second visit my wiener dogs barking didn't deter him either but by his third visit the right So that my husband shot in the air did chase them away and we don't want him here, but I would it's just so exciting and so awesome to see him out there, you know and see him that close. (00:29:36) Thank you Marge for your call we go to Egan bill is on the phone. Good afternoon Bill. Welcome to Main (00:29:42) Street. Good afternoon. Ladies. Tell my wife taking my call. I've been a bow hunter for 25 years and by that I don't want I don't believe in standing in a type of hunting but I do have a problem with dating. I guess I'm a lot more helpful punching of their if I had to bear on his own trip that I realize that they have a large range and they would be very difficult to hunt in that manner, but I think it would (00:30:11) Okay bills on a cell phone having problems. Obviously with the reception his point is he doesn't mind hunting. He doesn't like baiting Bears. He thinks as he said kill him fair and square. I would be interested. We've already talked about the dnr's position on that that that's been tradition in Minnesota. And it's what we go with Lynn Rogers. Do you have a thought about hunting bears how we should go (00:30:31) about it? Boy, I like like Bill Lee here. The North American Bears Center doesn't have a position on hunting or any controversial issues. We just want to educate the public about the natural history of these animals and present both sides of any controversial issue (00:30:48) and there's no no plan underway or no proposal to stop allowing baiting of bears. It seems to be working Dave. (00:30:57) Well, I think so. I mean since the basic problem that we have right now is a bear population that's increasing sort of out of control if we did stop baiting and made hunting much more difficult. It really does exacerbate that problem (00:31:12) we go now to Inver Grove Heights. Good afternoon, Paul. Welcome to Main Street. Hi. Thanks for taking my call. Okay, three questions. (00:31:20) Ready Mother Bear's do when you attack its cub. How big do black bears get into Bears the close together a very spread out (00:31:29) Paul great questions. Let's have our guests address those first of all what to Mother Bear's do when you attack a couple and you talked about taking the Cub away. What did that mother bear do just wave goodbye. (00:31:41) No. No, they made a big fuss and set a lot of things and look real ferocious. But we learned that that is not really a threat and not really a danger what I expected to see when I grabbed a cub was the mother to come charging but about 20 feet away was the typical distance the kind of chickened out and Retreat and they might do the same thing again, but we just came to accept it. Yeah, we're going to see the mother charged. We're not going to see any contact one thing I would not do though and that is climb a tree because Bears of all has been the largest tree climber in North America. They've always been the Of the Treetops and when in (00:32:22) the you can never out-climb a (00:32:23) bear, that's right. And when an invading bear climbs the tree to get away from a ferocious mother sometimes a mother comes up grabs up my hind leg and tries to throw it out. And I know of six people that have climbed trees panic when they saw a mother with Cubs didn't realize they didn't have to run and the bear did come up did try to bite their foot and one guy did get thrown out of a tree not at not all in Minnesota, (00:32:48) but it's happened in Ely though that was well-publicized the guy climbing a tree in the bear going after him. Was it not a number of years (00:32:54) ago. Aye aye you mean Ken Burger the a couple years ago that got bit by a bear. That was a different situation. (00:33:04) Okay, so don't climb a tree (00:33:07) it. Can I just say, I'm correct something here Lynn did make the comment about mother and cubs not attacking people and resulting in a fatal interaction, but there are Number of instances where a mother and cubs where somebody did something stupid like pick up a cub and they were attacked by a bear and they were mauled by the bear and then results in various degrees of injuries. And it's one thing to give statistics about just fatal attacks is another thing to talk about attacks period And there are a number of black bears attacks, you know, 25 or so every year across the country and some of these are very just you know minor scratches but some are maulings where people are disfigured or there, you know severely hampered or something like that and I think people really should know about those at that minute that is something to (00:33:56) consider a away from a mother bear and her (00:33:58) Cubs not a good idea just because a researcher can do it and I think Lynn has some better judgment about you know, how to read bears and what to do it. I don't I don't think that we should (00:34:08) be telling don't do this at home. Let's move on to the second part of his question, which is what how big do bears get. What is the record black bear we've ever seen in Minnesota. (00:34:18) It's Say that's a bear that I weighed at Bill Lee's sanctuary. And how big was the bear that was Duffy at eight hundred seventy six pounds (00:34:28) 876 pounds the average black bear is how big what would you say (00:34:34) Dave hirsh Ellis with the average (00:34:36) male? The average male bear is going to be done around 350 pounds or something in Minnesota and there have been actually a few bigger Bears elsewhere in North America black bears. There was one recently, North Carolina. That was 880 pounds. (00:34:50) Bill Lee what are you doing to him down there in the Carolinas? Okay in the last part of the question how close to black bears live together? How wide is their territory we talked about wolf Pack's to bears live very solitary lives or do they live in groups as well? (00:35:05) Well, they live solitary lives, but they get packed in by how many there are at the density type of an issue and in Minnesota it averages about one bear per square mile, but in other places in national parks and other places that aren't hunted you can get three or four Bears per square (00:35:20) mile. We have a member of our audience who has a question life. Anger (00:35:24) Kathy Sherrard is here. And of course the whole premise of this hour is that there are tons and tons of bears and Kathy has a question about that Baseline data. (00:35:33) I'd like to know how you find out that the population is doubling and doubling and doubling. I'm sure they don't answer a census the Bears that is so how do you be how do you base your figures? Good question. They've got (00:35:46) jealous it is and it's an unfortunately. It's a rather complicated. We use a technique called the mark-recapture. We Mark a certain proportion of the population or a certain number of animals. And for example, we Mark a thousand bears and then we get what's called a recapture sample and find out what proportion that thousand represents and so in the recapture sample, we find out that that thousand that that one out of ten bears were marked. Then we know we have 10,000 Bears and the way we did it was we Mark bears by putting out baits with little capsules of tetracycline in the Bates. The Bears came and ate these baits by ingesting the tetracycline. They got a mark in their bones and in their teeth and then Hunters turned in a sample to us of their bone bone or tooth from a killed there. And we looked at What proportion of those had tetracycline? (00:36:38) So that's your best guess estimate using those (00:36:41) methods it is and it's not really a guess. It really is a pretty accurate estimate of the entire State wide (00:36:47) population. Tom is on the phone from Rochester. Good afternoon, Tom. Welcome to Main (00:36:51) Street. Hi, thanks for taking my call. I had a question about the about black bear attacks on humans and the motivation behind them and recently I was reading a book by Stephen Herrera who is apparently some sort of animal behaviorist or environmental biologist and it was his his proposition in looking to the information that was available to him that most of the severe black bear attacks on humans were motivated by predation in that they were praying on humans. And I wonder if you could just comment on that that's been your experience. I'll take my spot. Thank you. (00:37:31) Yes, that's true. And that's and that gets back to what Dave was saying to you earlier about these attacks. We have to Great predacious offensive attacks from defensive attacks Dave mentioned that some of these so-called attacks across the country are just scratches. That's when somebody tries to pet a bear and the bear doesn't understand petting because they're solitary animals. They don't do mutual grooming like many species do when somebody reaches out to pet a bear. The bear doesn't understand that in they'll nip or cough. And another way that people get attacked so-called attack is by trying to hand feed a bear which I would never recommend because so many people that keep jerking the bear the food back as soon as the bear opens his mouth to get it pretty soon the bear tries to take it quickly and gets a finger bruises the finger not a big injury but a person reported as all I got bit by a bear and and so (00:38:25) our sin should be unprovoked attacks than just actual attacks (00:38:29) from bears. These are what's that (00:38:32) any idea how what percentage would be unprovoked attacks? I think that's what the question was (00:38:37) the The good thing about these unprovoked attacks that is how rare they are these it's easy to prevent the defense of attacks by bears because we just don't have to hand-feed them and to go close to them the offense of attacks. The good thing is that they're very rare very rare. Yes, like the killings is you know, 40 so far this century and attacks. They're very rare. Probably a few per year. We had one here in Minnesota in 1987 and 12 years ago. (00:39:15) Yeah. Okay we go to Gail in Minneapolis. Good afternoon Gail. Welcome to Main Street. (00:39:20) Hello. Thank you. I'm wondering I heard him on the gentleman mention about taking a cub for research and I'm wondering if there's a specific program where they take so many Cubs a year and where do they bring them? And what kind of research did they do on them? (00:39:34) Thank you. Oh that that is simply to irritate the Cubs. So as they grow up we know the approximate area that they were born in who the brothers and sisters are who the mother is so we can learn how Bears lived together in the effects of kinship on their behavior among each (00:39:49) other and you tag a cub and I can go right back to its mother. (00:39:52) Oh, yes, they're right there. Yes, and people worry sometimes about what if there's human smell on the bear on the Cub with a mother accept it and that only counts with animals that live in in groups like sheep or something where they distinguish each other by by smell, but for black bears any come dissolved their the mother wants (00:40:11) We go to st. Paul now where Earl is standing by. Good afternoon Earl. Welcome to Main (00:40:15) Street. Hey Rachel, this is Earl flank. I'm the author of a book called chasing Bears a Canoe Country Adventure. It's a novel for you that you may find on sale right there in Ely, but I wanted to ask one question of the gentleman. I was coming home from my up north book tour where I was promoting my book in June and I came across a bear a young bear that had been killed along the roadside must have been a year and a half old or two year old bear. I'm wondering are we seeing more bear vehicle problems with this increased (00:40:52) population? Good question. That's when actually one of our reporters did have an incident with but he said he didn't hit the bear the bear hit him. Is that happen? Are we seeing these bear vehicle (00:41:03) crashes, you know, actually we once thought that we could use the number of bear vehicle collisions as an index to the population size and we have pretty good records on these and it actually shows no Trend we have about 50 or so Bears killed every year that we're aware of when in vehicle collisions and that's has stayed the same for the past 15 or so years, (00:41:27) which is amazing considering the number of bears of growth. The number of people have grown the number of cars have grown so they're pretty wary of cars. Let's go to Duluth. We have Irene on the phone. Good afternoon, Irene. Welcome to Main Street. (00:41:41) Good afternoon. The VIN shootie Wildlife Sanctuary is an outstanding Educational Center Ali has the Wolf Center. Why not let or have the bear Center at the shootie sanctuary barbarous ranged up to a hundred miles of The Boundary Waters canoe area doesn't really play into this. (00:42:02) Bills that something that you're going for to establish a bear Center in or (00:42:06) I wouldn't say that we're gunning for that. I guess I wouldn't mind seeing a bear Center and every County where we have Bears so people could learn more about this animal and we've heard a lot of different thoughts. We talked about (00:42:22) attacks and (00:42:24) that going from grabbing Cubs to being petrified. A lot of people are just so afraid of bears and I think what we need to do is we need to show that bears are not teddy bears, but there we don't also have to be so afraid of them. And and what we want to do is replace fear with respect and I think the Bears will benefit by more and more education. So if we have more Education Centers teaching about bears, I think the Bears become the ultimate (00:42:52) winner so some place in the middle. (00:42:55) I agree completely with Bill and and if we do get a bear Center here in Ely Bill Lee is the guy that we On a work with to send field trips to and work in cooperation with the or the event shootie Sanctuary. (00:43:10) It does the DNR have anything to say about the bear Side Up in or that they're feeding 50 Bears the DNR neutral on that Dave or they supporting it or opposed to it. You have any idea what the position would be of your (00:43:25) agency? Well, the position of the agency is that we don't encourage anybody to feed bears and I guess you know that position is somewhat in conflict with the VIN shootie Sanctuary them feeding bears. And also I might add what Lynn Rogers has sometimes preach that feeding bears is okay in the people could do that (00:43:45) and even though it's what we speak for myself on that if you please (00:43:49) okay, you can afterwards Lynn but base basically we are opposed to feeding bears now. We understand what the history is of the Vince shootie sanctuary and we understand that there are some benefits. To having people come see bears and to use that as kind of a magnet to bring people in and to give them a message but it is I think sometimes a little bit difficult for people to see in operation feeding bears and at the same time being told don't do this. I think that is our greatest challenge is is to make sure that people don't leave their thinking it's a good idea to feed bears and there's no doubt in all of our minds at the American Bar Association that that's a negative aspect of what we're doing there. And if somebody is against the feeding, we certainly understand that but everything you do in life has positives and negatives and the feeding is a negative. But if we can use those Bears there as ambassadors for bears everywhere if we can teach a respect for Bears if we can (00:44:56) talk about the habitat needs (00:44:58) then then we feel that maybe in this case with (00:45:01) Long (00:45:02) history of feeding that's taken place. There may be in this case. It's okay, but we need to and we do every day every hour we give a talk and we tell our visitors that that it is not a good thing and nobody should ever start it. (00:45:17) What if you stopped feeding bears today up there. Are you afraid that those bears would not be able to manage for (00:45:23) themselves a while. Definitely not this is just supplemental (00:45:26) food and just desert right? And and what we find is in those years like when we have a drought there's less (00:45:32) food available. We have more visitation. So it really it really varies it and we feel really good that none of those bears are dependent upon because none of the Bears are there long enough it's switches and and they come and go as they want the (00:45:47) fluid transient population. Then Rogers. Let's give you a chance to give your opinion on feeding (00:45:51) bears. I agree with Bill Bill said it very well that they're not dependent on the place. The supplements are food there. And if you look at the droppings there you see it's primarily wild food they come. For dessert and in years when natural food is scarce. It gives them a place to go instead of somebody's garbage can (00:46:09) for doing your research. And again you've been in bear research for three decades is food is that it does that have to be the bait to bring data to have something to bring the Bears in (00:46:18) yes, if they weren't feeding their they wouldn't see the Bears the Bears if they stop feeding soon. The Bears would be somewhere else and nobody get to see him and this educational opportunity that bill is offering at the vent shootie Wildlife Sanctuary would be (00:46:32) lost. You have lived very closely with the Bears and have strong opinions that they not only look sort of human with five fingers and five toes that they actually have emotions like humans tell us about (00:46:45) that. Well, that's a question that nobody can really answer. People are often asking me Bears looks so human. They actually human they're so intelligent. Did they share some of our emotions and the more we learn about animals the more emotions we learn about that they share Hard to see into the mind of an animal to see what is real emotions are I was struck though, when when a mother when a mother was had two of her Cubs and one was missing for two days one Cub was missing and for that two days. I recorded her sound and it sounded everybody played to this is that bears crying and saw like all 0000 and for two days. She made that sound even when she'd be nursing her Cubs have all the stimulation from her Cubs. She knew that that one was missing until it was reunited with her and she stopped and we never heard that sound before or since (00:47:44) so that would lead you to believe that there are (00:47:46) emotions there that she was feeling some strong some strong feelings. Yes. Absolutely. Let's (00:47:52) talk a little bit about bear sounds of her that great sound that life. Got up there the bear crunching on his penis. What else? Can you tell us that if we would see a bear in the I'll that we would know something about what they're about to do by the sounds that they make kind of an attack sound or kind of a friendly. I don't mind. If you're here kind of (00:48:12) sound. Yes. In fact, they Bears make a lot of sounds and in part of my research was to get to know individuals well enough that they would accept me and I can walk with them and sleep with them for 24 hours at a time mothers and Cubs and everything and I got to hear the vocalizations among themselves that you wouldn't normally here because most of the things that campers and hikers here are what they interpret is ferocious sounds fact the usually interpret anything a bear says is a growl and I've never heard a bear growl. (00:48:46) I would like to say one thing as far as vocalizations and and emotions one thing that I think people really find surprising is how much fear dominates the life of the bear which is very surprising to most people because you have this great big Huge powerful animal some (00:49:03) very sharp claws right (00:49:05) and some big (00:49:06) canines, but they are dominated by fear out of the sanctuary. We live (00:49:11) with these bears and (00:49:13) we don't know about (00:49:14) emotions, but we do know that there are a lot of different personalities. There's they they just each is an individual (00:49:23) but almost the one (00:49:24) common trait that we see is that fear dominates their life, they're afraid of each other. They're jumpy. They're afraid of humans in certain circumstances and it's just very surprising that you had this (00:49:38) huge powerful animal that is afraid and a lot of people just don't realize that Lynn is on the line from Dakota County. Good afternoon, Len. Welcome to Main Street had (00:49:48) a question for the Rogers. He's often said and I've taped things these ways but I'm told is this Bears make Bluff charges. I'd like to know how does someone a Layman distinguish a bluff charge from a real charge of shouldn't call her bear way up North (00:50:01) That would be some good information for all of us Lynn. What's the real thing? It just (00:50:05) looks blustery a bluff charge looks blustery like these charges that the mothers made when I grabbed your Cubs, they come forward blowing explosively putting out are slamming their front feet down extra hard with each thing and makes the ground shake and they like to actually run through bushes or lunge against bushes because that emphasizes the whole display (00:50:28) and you know, it's a bluff if they (00:50:29) stop That's how you know, if you still around to see it. You'll know Identify some plugged (00:50:36) into one situation where it was a it was not a bluff charge. There was no Bluster to this. I startled this Mother's Cubs. She Whirled around a came at me silently. No Bluster straight for me mouth open. I tried to run backwards. I took one step and I fell on my back and as I fell I hit her in the head with my camera and I landed on my back I kicked her in the chin. She never flinched and she never touched me as I lay there waiting to see what to do next. She stood over me and the just turned went back to the Cubs. (00:51:07) So what do we draw from that Lynn (00:51:09) Rogers that when I that if if a bear's if I thought if I was I was just oozing fear. I smelled like fear and a lot of people are afraid that if if they look vulnerable here I was laying on my back and if you smell is freed and an animal can tell that you're afraid that they're going to attack and she (00:51:28) didn't well who wouldn't smell afraid if you fallen down? In the bear is over you how can you pretend not to be afraid when you're scared? (00:51:35) So when I got up I felt I mean I thought if she's not going to attack when she's angry. I'm vulnerable. I smell smell like I'm afraid I don't have to worry at all. And I and I went with her for another two hours until they lay down and take a (00:51:48) nap. So if you see a bear and you should you turn and run should you stand your ground should you be small should you be (00:51:55) big I've experimented with that actually and (00:51:59) Nelson 15 seconds. What we should do? (00:52:01) Okay. It really does make a big difference. I've heard all the things about never run from a bear. You got to stand and look big you got to talk a certain way and when these mothers were charging I got so confident that nothing would happen. I experimented with looking small looking away running and it never never made any (00:52:21) difference. We are out of time Dave garsh Ellis billion in Rogers. Thanks for being with us today. The special Main Street radio broadcast is a production of Minnesota Public Radio our Is our Cliff Bentley and Rob's in ski and Ely Randy Johnson and st. Paul our producer Sarah Mayer site producer life. Anger. Our executive producer is Mel summer. We like to thank Tim Cook and the staff at the International Wolf Center for making this broadcast from Ely possible. We invite you to visit the Main Street website go to npr.org mpr's Main Street radio coverage of rural issues is supported by the blandin foundation committed to strengthening communities through grant-making leadership training and convening Minnesota public. Radio's Main Street team consists of 12 reporters at NPR bureaus across Minnesota. I'm Rachel rebe.