When a group of Three Rivers Parks District biologists and state wildlife managers scooped up a female black bear cub Tuesday from a homeowner's yard near Elm Creek Park Reserve, it was a teachable moment.
It came two days after a young, injured bear turned up in north Minneapolis and was euthanized by Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in an unrelated situation.
In Maple Grove, Three Rivers Parks senior wildlife manager John Moriarty had heard reports of a bear cub alone in a tree over the weekend. By Tuesday, the bear was considered abandoned or orphaned because it had been on its own for more than 48 hours, he said.
When word came that the bear had come down and was on the move, Moriarty along with colleagues and DNR wildlife staff went searching. Soon they found the 7-pound cub sitting in a yard. The cub was put in a pet carrier and transported to Wild and Free, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Garrison, Minn., known for helping bears.
Wild and Free operates out of Garrison Animal Hospital and was launched by veterinarian Deb Eskedahl. She said Wednesday that the new arrival was "very feisty" when it arrived. The cub will be put in hibernation this fall, she added, before the DNR bear project team picks it up next spring to be released into the wild. Because she is a female, she will get a radio collar for tracking and studying.
Eskedahl said last year the hospital had 11 bear cubs in its care, and nine were released.
Moriarty said he was glad for the outcome and appreciated the handful of neighbors in Maple Grove who watched the events unfold and are "in favor of bears." He said several had seen a bear known to inhabit Elm Creek Park Reserve.
The DNR defended its actions in north Minneapolis on Sunday, saying the bear that turned up there was considered a public safety threat. Andrew Tri, DNR bear project leader, told the Star Tribune that "officers felt there was no safe route for the bear to get out of the populated area of north Minneapolis."
"I understand that bears can cause problems and I understand that sometimes they need to be removed," Moriarty said.
The agency has looked at its bear encounter guidelines and makes a point to put some responsibility for the outcome on humans. Removing or managing food sources, like bird feeders or garbage cans, is important because, for bears, this time of year is all about the food. They'll circle back to these attractions.
Moriarty said Minnesotans in the metro and suburbs can expect bears to show up on occasion, and he is hoping both recent cases help educate the public. The female bear in Elm Creek Park is known to have produced young the last few years and delivered triplets this year. He said it's unknown if the cub rescued Tuesday is from her litter.
"It is just getting people accustomed to bears," said Moriarty of the belief that any bear is a threat. "The attitude is different outstate … [where they have] urban populations but live with bears."