Collared bears provide management information

The Minnesota bear hunting season opens Friday, Sept. 1, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is once again asking hunters to avoid shooting marked research bears. These bears are marked with distinctively large, colorful ear tags and wear radio collars.

Researchers with the Minnesota DNR are monitoring 35 radio-collared black bears across the state, especially in bear hunting zones 27, 45, and parts of the no-quota zone. Most of the radio-collared bears live in or near the Chippewa National Forest, Camp Ripley Military Reserve, the Pillsbury State Forest, and the Brainerd/Baxter area. However, the bears also range widely from these sites. 

“We are asking hunters to avoid shooting these valuable research bears,” said Andy Tri, Minnesota DNR bear research scientist. “These collared bears give us much of the data we use in bear management and are most valuable to us when they are collared for multiple years. Thank you to hunters who have opted to not take collared bears in past years and hunters who will choose to not harvest collared bears this season.”

A key to the research is looking at year-to-year changes in natural food supplies and how those changes affect individual bears in terms of their habitat use, physical condition, denning, reproduction and interactions with people. This research is not designed to evaluate mortality from hunting. Trapping new bears every year to replace the ones killed cannot substitute for long-term data on individual bears.

The Minnesota DNR asks any hunters who do shoot a collared or ear-tagged bear to call the Minnesota DNR Wildlife Research Office in Grand Rapids at (218) 328-8879 or (218) 328-8874 to report it and coordinate the pickup or drop off of the collar and heart monitor, if applicable.