The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says there has been another bear sighting in the region, on Sunday in New Ulm

Joe Stangel, Assistant Wildlife Manager for the DNR’s southern region, said, among other things, homeowners in the area might want to take a brief break from feeding the birds. “Now that there’s been a bear sighted in and around New Ulm, if you’re in that bluff zone here in New Ulm it might be a good idea, at least for a week or so, to take down your bird feeders.”

That’s because a well-stocked birdfeeder could supply more than 10,000 calories with little effort, rather than the bear having to search over a wider area for wild berries, nuts or insects. He says putting them out in the morning and bringing them inside at night may prevent attracting a bear to the backyard. He also recommends keeping the trash can somewhere indoors until the morning of trash pick up.

The bear was spotted near Flandrau State Park, but Stangel says most campers already take the steps necessary to keep unwanted critters out of their food supply. “Most campers in state parks, just because of raccoons, tend to secure their food pretty well,” he said, “But they might keep a cooler outside and it might be a good idea to secure your food items and your garbage in and around your campsite.”

There is a simple piece of advice he says generally works best and that’s, “If you see a bear, keep your distance. Give it a way to get away.”

The DNR discontinued the practice of trapping and relocating bears in 1999 and relies instead on the public to avoid doing things that attract them – with the exception of providing extra assistance to Minnesota agricultural producers. Stangel said, “If a bear is causing agricultural damage, damage to beehives, we will work with agricultural producers to do some abatement techniques like electric fence around beehives and things like that to keep them out of those.”

With relocation not an option, Stangel said the remaining option is killing the animal – a result wildlife managers and most of the public prefer to avoid.

The purpose of the bear sighting reporting effort is to determine whether there are more of them in the southern part of the state. Stangel says a warmer climate and a change in vegetation from more grassland to brushy and woodland habitat may have drawn them further south but until the study is concluded that remains to be seen.