The decision of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources authorities to euthanize an injured black bear that was roaming in north Minneapolis over the weekend has drawn some criticism from the public.
Some say the DNR could have tranquilized and relocated the injured bear, while others are calling on animal rights groups to intervene and hold the DNR accountable for its action.
But DNR officials said Monday that the bear was deemed a public safety threat and had to be killed to avoid risk. The male bear weighed about 120 pounds and was between the ages of 2 and 3, the DNR said.
"Enforcement officers on the scene must have public safety as a primary objective and may have to kill a bear in an urban area that would not be killed in a similar situation in a more rural setting," said Andrew Tri, DNR bear project leader. "Officers felt there was no safe route for the bear to get out of the populated area of north Minneapolis."
Animal rights advocacy groups did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment.
Minneapolis police, park police and Hennepin County Sheriff's Office deputies helped track the bear after finding the wild animal wandering near Girard and 14th avenues N. on Sunday. The young bear appeared to have an injured front paw, according to police.
Tranquilizing an injured animal can make the situation more unpredictable, Tri said. The DNR doesn't tranquilize nuisance bears for numerous reasons, he said. Darting them on the ground can be risky in an urban setting because the bear may run into traffic or get close to people or pets in the 10 to 15 minutes the drug is taking effect.
Black bears travel extensively in Minnesota, sometimes looking for food or a place to settle, and a few end up in or around the Twin Cities area every year.
Bears near the edge of the metro area, or near a wooded corridor, may be able to navigate their way out, DNR officials said. But those deep in a residential or business district without a nearby wooded area find it more difficult to leave. Officials said the DNR averages fewer than six bear killings each year.
If a bear is spotted in a neighborhood, residents are advised to take their garbage, bird feeders and pet food inside. "Bears will not remain in an area if there is no food," Tri said.
For additional information on bears, visit https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/livingwith_wildlife/bears/index.html or bearwise.org/.