Hunters participating in this fallâ€™s bear hunt, which opens Sept. 1, should avoid shooting radio-collared or ear-tagged animals, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Taking a bear with a radio collar is legal unless the bear is accompanied by a researcher who has identified the bear to the hunter as a research animal.
DNR researchers are monitoring about 35 radio-collared black bears, most of them in northwestern Minnesota, especially near Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area and the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge. Additional radio-collared bears reside in and around the Chippewa National Forest, Camp Ripley, Cloquet Forestry Station and Voyageurs National Park.
Bear research also is being conducted between Ely and Tower near the Eagles Nest chain of lakes in northern St. Louis County.
â€œHunters near these areas should be especially vigilant for collared bears,â€ said Dave Garshelis, DNR bear research biologist. â€œHowever, bears travel widely in the fall, sometimes 50 miles or more, so collared bears can turn up almost anywhere.â€
Most of the monitored bears have brightly-colored ear-tags to make them more visible to hunters. Some bears also have brightly-colored tape or streamers on their collars. Photos of some of these are available on the DNR website.
â€œWeâ€™re asking that if hunters see ear tags or a collar on a bear, they refrain from shooting itâ€ Garshelis said. â€œResearchers have invested an enormous amount of time and expense in these bears. Many of the collars have global positioning units that collect and store data, which is downloaded when we visit the bears in their dens and helps us monitor and manage the bear population.â€
DNR officials recognize that a hunter may not be able to see a radio collar or ear tags in some situations.
Any hunters who do shoot collared bears should call the DNR Wildlife Research Office in Grand Rapids at 218-327-4146 or 218-327-4133.