Bears start to emerge across BWCA and North Shore region following prolonged winter
WTIP file photo
Outdoor News

Bears start to emerge across BWCA and North Shore region following prolonged winter

A spring that never materialized across the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Minnesota’s North Shore left the region’s black bear population tucked away longer than usual.

That being the case, bears are starting to emerge from hibernation as the region’s lakes thaw and the snow continues to melt ahead of Minnesota’s Fishing Opener on Saturday, May 13.

The Fishing Opener means more people will be frequenting the woods and water in some of the state’s prime bear country. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports that the black bear is an iconic species usually associated with Minnesota’s North Woods. While they are common throughout the forested northern and central portions of the state, black bears can live throughout the state, sometimes wandering into cities and towns. Grand Marais residents are accustomed to seeing black bears in town from time to time, but it’s also likely canoe campers in the BWCA will encounter a bear in May. The hope for many is that visitors to the wilderness see a bear on a distant shoreline rather than wandering into their campsite.

The DNR emphasizes ways to reduce bear-human conflicts in the spring. At camp, this includes things such as keeping food secured in a bear resistant container, including a Ursack. At home, bring in bird feeders and only put garbage containers outside on the day the trash is going to be picked up.

In 2022, Minnesota joined a host of other states to become a Bearwise state. Essentially, this means Minnesota supports a unified plan to reduce bear-human conflicts. Black bears are naturally cautious animals that avoid human contact for their safety, but conflicts between people and bears can arise, according to the DNR.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs recently spoke with Andrew Tri, a bear biologist for the DNR, to learn more about bear activity this spring in the BWCA and North Shore region. Audio below.