A hungry bear eating at a Livonia Township bird feeder attacked and killed a small dog early Monday morning.
The bear and its three cubs were at a residence in the vicinity of Sherburne County Road 8 and County Line Road, about three miles east of Zimmerman and near the town of Crown in Isanti County.
The female bear and its three cubs were feeding at a bird feeder when the Pomeranian dog came nose-to-nose with the bear, DNR wildlife officials said.
They suspect the bear was trying to protect its cubs from the dog.
It’s not known if this is the same bear a Princeton Union-Eagle Facebook friend warned about on April 27 when she was on 169 south of Princeton and almost hit a baby black bear running across the road.
As of Tuesday afternoon the bears had not been located, said Fred Bengston, Area Wildlife Manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Sauk Rapids.
There seems to be a history of bears in the neighborhood, Bengston said.
“It’s become obvious to us after talking to people in the area that there have been bears in the area the past few years,” Bengston said.
“From information we’ve received from locals, there is evidence that bears have been hanging out close to residences,” he said.
Bengston said the bear and cubs have been “patrolling the neighborhood” for food this spring. Another bear might also be associated with the group, he said.
“It’s not uncommon for bears to be spotted in Sherburne County. With the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, the Sand Dunes State Forest and quite a bit of rural area in Sherburne County, bears will frequently live and pass through the county,” Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott said.
“It is, however, rare for there to be an incident such as what happened today,” Brott said Monday.
During this time of the year the bears have come out of their winter dens hungry and their natural food sources are not yet available to them, Brott said. Common food sources, until natural foods are available, for the bear are bird feeders, garbage, dog food and even barbecue grills, he said.
The problem with bears coming into yards is rooted with property owners, and not the bears themselves, Bengston said.
“Dogs and bears are natural enemies. What the bear did was instinctual. This wasn’t a case of ‘bear gone bad’,” Bengston said.
The bear was looking for food for herself and her young, he said.
“The feeder didn’t have a sign that says ‘For birds only’,” he added.
Brott suggests that individuals who are concerned about bears should stop feeding birds and to make sure their garbage, dog food and barbecue grills are stored in a place that the bears do not have access to.
If anyone sees a bear and has a concern about that bear, please contact Assistant Wildlife Manger Nick Snazely at 320-255-4279 or Conservation Officer Mitch Sladek at 763-497-5880.
If a bear is an immediate threat to public safety please call 911 and a deputy will respond to assist you with the situation.
In this situation, the DNR has not determined what course of action it will take.
“What happened here, we view as natural, but we need to measure risks to public safety first,” Bengston said. “We’re taking this seriously.”
If the bears are deemed to be a risk to public safety they will be euthanized.
“We don’t relocate bears,” he said.