DNR: Oldest Known Wild Black Bear Dies of Old Age
Bear No. 56 in June 2013.
Photo courtesy of Minnesota DNR
Minnesota wildlife officials say the world's oldest known wild black bear has died of old age at 39 1/2.
Bear No. 56 was first captured and radio-collared in 1981 when Ronald Reagan was early in his first term. The bear was 7 years old at the time and was accompanied by three cubs.
Department of Natural Resources researcher Karen Boyce recently found the bear's decomposed body in a secluded, wooded area in northern Minnesota. She says all indications are that it died a quiet death from natural causes. She calls it "a fitting death for a fine old bear."
Researchers suspect Bear No. 56's longevity probably is best attributed to a combination of living in a remote area with few humans or major roads, wariness of people and luck.
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