Frogtown black bear shot and killed by DNR

A black bear turned up in the heart of St. Paul last weekend.
A black bear turned up in the heart of St. Paul last weekend.

Around 12:30 Sunday morning, residents of St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood saw a black bear roaming around the area.

The bear's journey to the heart of the city must've been an interesting one. Dave Garshelis, bear research biologist for the DNR, said the two nearest bear populations -- western Wisconsin and on the northern fringe of the Twin Cities metro -- are each about 30 miles away from Frogtown.

After first being spotted on the 500 block of West Charles Avenue, the bear traveled around three blocks north to West Lafond Avenue, where it climbed a tree. St. Paul police, coordinating with the DNR, waited for the bear to climb down, then shot and killed it.

Why did officers shoot to kill rather than tranquilize? Garshelis said the DNR instituted a shoot-to-kill policy for bears found within the 694-494 loop back in 2006.

"The DNR isn't really equipped to [tranquilize]" when bears are found in the Twin Cities, Garshelis said. "In the western states, the people that work for natural resources agencies carry dart guns and are trained, and they have the drugs and practice."

Added Garshelis: "When you weigh this one bear life against the potential for human injury in a crowded area where there are lots of people and cars, [the DNR] decided to err on the side of public safety."

The bear shoot-to-kill policy is unique to the Twin Cities area, Garshelis said. For instance, if a black bear were spotted near downtown Duluth, officers and DNR agents would first attempt to tranquilize it.

The Frogtown bear's gender and age haven't yet been shared by the DNR. It reportedly weighed about 200 pounds.

Garshelis said, in his experience, bears pop up in urban areas about two or three times a year. When traveling from western Wisconsin, for instance, they tend to follow strips of woods that eventually peter out, leaving bears in unfamiliar city environments. Bears turn up in cities more often in spring, when natural foods are less plentiful than in summer or fall.

See also:
-- Hibernating bears have remarkable wound healing capabilities, finds Minnesota researchers

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