DNR: Natural food shortage causing bears to seek food in populated areas

A bear seen walking in Downtown St. Paul earlier this summer. Photo: Union Depot. A bear seen walking in Downtown St. Paul earlier this summer.

Charlie Wiese
Updated: August 17, 2020 04:25 PM
Created: August 17, 2020 02:43 PM

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is urging people to take precautions to help keep bears away.

According to a release from the DNR, a shortage of natural food is causing bears to look for food sources at homes, cabins and campsites which has led to an increase of bear-human interactions in northern Minnesota.


“We’re asking people to remove food sources that could attract bears from their properties or campsites,” said Andrew Tri, a bear biologist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “It’s important that folks be extra vigilant in keeping trash and birdseed away from bears to ensure they don’t get an easy meal from what people leave out.”

The Minnesota DNR gave the following tips to help people avoid bear encounters:

  • Store garbage in bear-resistant garbage cans or dumpsters. Keep garbage inside a secure building (not a screened porch) until the morning of pickup.
  • If there is not a secure building to put bear attractants in, erect an energized fence around trash or any other item attractive to bears (e.g., fruit trees, animal feed, gardens and compost piles).
  • When camping, pack out trash, dispose of it properly, and store food in bear-resistant containers or in a locked vehicle or camper.
  • Avoid feeding birds from April 1 to Nov. 15.
  • If you still wish to feed birds, hang bird feeders 10-feet up and 4-feet out from the nearest trees. Use a rope and pulley system to refill bird feeders, and clean up spilled seeds daily.
  • Do not leave food from barbecues and picnics outdoors, especially overnight. Standard coolers are not bear-proof, but there are lockable, bear-resistant models available.
  • Pick fruit from your trees and collect any fallen fruit promptly. If not feasible to pick all the fruit, protect trees from damage by using an energized fence.


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