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Bear sightings perk up St. Cloud-area residents

Black bear sightings are increasing with the spring season.

At least two people have reported seeing bears in Sauk Rapids and St. Cloud during the last couple weeks.

Such sightings aren't uncommon this time of year, according to Fred Bengtson, area wildlife manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Sauk Rapids office.

Sightings have increased throughout the years, but this year has been slow, he said. Typically the Sauk Rapids office handles 10-20 reports, he said. This year, he has handled only two since March.

''One bear in the city can generate a lot more calls than one bear in the country," Bengtson said.


Sue White is used to seeing bears at her family's cabin in Canada, but last week she was surprised to find two bears in her St. Cloud yard. The family lives on the Sauk River, and have never seen a bear locally.

Wednesday night, her husband, Sam, saw a bear 50 feet up in an ash tree, and estimated it weighed about 300 pounds. The family watched the bear for about a half-hour before it climbed down. They then noticed a smaller bear poke its head up over a retaining wall. The two then left.

The Whites called the Stearns County Sheriff and the DNR.

''It was an exciting moment," White said. "I have a feeling the bears wandered off to a quieter environment to do whatever bears do."

People should not intentionally feed bears, Bengtson said. Bears come into yards looking for high-energy food sources, such as cat and dog food and bird seed, he said.

That's probably the case for the bear in Bruce Reischl's Sauk Rapids' yard. Reischl keeps a motion-detecting camera in his backyard to see what wildlife come by. About two weeks ago, his camera caught a black bear licking a salt block that he puts out for deer.

The bear weighed around 200 pounds, Reischl said. He has not seen it since.

''I was shocked," Reischl said. "I was expecting to see a skunk, raccoon or coyote walk by, but a bear didn't come to mind. I would like to see him again."


There have never been issues in the area with bears and humans and only a couple problems with livestock, Bengtson said.

Making noise should be enough to scare off a bear, he said.

''Just leave them alone," Bengtson said.

Bear sightings should reported to the DNR if the bear is acting strange or if it will not leave sensitive areas, such as schools and day cares.

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