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Published June 22, 2011, 10:43 PM

DNR Investigating Growing NW Minnesota Bear Population

The Minnesota DNR wants to find out why the bear population continues to grow in northwestern Minnesota. To do that, they attached a GPS system to a bear that was trapped near Thief River Falls.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

The Minnesota DNR wants to find out why the bear population continues to grow in northwestern Minnesota.

To do that, they attached a GPS system to a bear that was trapped near Thief River Falls.

Using a syringe attached to a stick, they put a black bear caught in a DNR trap into a temporary sleep.

"The population in the state has been expanding from the core what you think of as typical bear habitat, forest area. It's been expanding for 30 years now," DNR biologist Karen Noyce said.

Noyce says that's part of the reason they are here, taking a closer look at how bears are using this mixed habitat of farmland and small patches of forest.

While the young male bear was tranquilized, he was fitted with a GPS collar. It's also a chance to collect blood samples, measure body fat and attach heart monitors.

"So we'll be able to watch the heart function change as it goes from its active state in the summer and the fall as it transitions into winter," Noyce said.

This is not just a learning experience for the DNR. It's a little like having the Discovery Channel showing up for Randy Knott, who owns the land where the bear was captured. This is the second bear the DNR has tagged here in the last month.

"Try to get as many of our friends and family involved, 4H club, coworkers. Made an event just like today," Knott said.

Knott now gets GPS information from the DNR so he can track the bear's movements as well.

"Yesterday at 5 o'clock he had moved north into Marshall county. So he was covering quite an area," Knott said.

These black bears are very shy and not considered a real threat to humans. But the DNR says people should never feed the bears or they could become an unwanted pest.

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