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DNR to hunters: Don't shoot the radio-collared bears

From the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

-- Hunters participating in Minnesota's fall bear hunt should avoid shooting radio-collared or ear-tagged animals.  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.

DNR officials recognize a hunter may not be able to see a radio collar or ear tags in some situations. Any hunter who shoots a radio-collared bear should contact the Wildlife Research Office in Grand Rapids at (218)327-4146 or (218)327-4133. Minnesota's bear season runs from Sept. 1 to Oct. 17.

Researchers are monitoring about 35 radio-collared black bears, most of them in northwestern Minnesota, especially near Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area and 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 near the Eagles Nest chain of lakes in northern St. Louis County.

Hunters near these areas should be especially vigilant for collared bears, according to bear research biologist Dave Garshelis. "However, bears travel widely in the fall, sometimes 50 miles or more, so collared bears can turn up almost anywhere."

Most of the monitored bears have brightly-colored ear-tags to make them more visible to hunters. Some bears also have brightly-colored tape or streamers on their collars. Photos of some of these are available on the DNR website.

"We're asking if hunters see ear tags or a collar on a bear, they refrain from shooting it," Garshelis said. "Researchers have invested an enormous amount of time and expense in these bears. Many of the collars have global positioning units that collect and store data, which is downloaded when we visit the bears in their dens and helps us monitor and manage the bear population."

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