Dec
19
2007

The cold, bear facts: Should a hibernating nuisance bear be put to death?

Snooze and lose?: A famous black bear (not this one pictured, however) in northern Minnesota may be sorry it chose a local cabin as a place to hibernate this winter. A controversy is now brewing as to if the bear is a nuisance bear and needs to be killed.
Snooze and lose?: A famous black bear (not this one pictured, however) in northern Minnesota may be sorry it chose a local cabin as a place to hibernate this winter. A controversy is now brewing as to if the bear is a nuisance bear and needs to be killed.Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Here’s a doosey of a wildlife dilemma. A well-known bear in the Ely, Minn., area is currently hibernating in an open space under a lake cabin with her two cubs. The cabin owner doesn’t want Solo, so named because she’s missing one of her ears (here’s a link to her picture), under the cabin through the winter. State wildlife and local government authorities are now struggling over what to do.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is planning to follow its policies and kill the bear and relocate the cubs to another area. That’s because Solo has become much to comfortable with humans, particularly the Ely-area residents who have put out food for her over the years.

Township government officials report that they’ve had numerous complaints from people that Solo has gotten way too close to them over the years because of her lack of fear of people. People are sure it’s her because of the missing ear. Authorities also point out that there are about 25 other bears living in the area, lessening the impact of losing one problem bear from the area’s wildlife population.

But several bear activists in the area are irate about the plans. They contend that their feeding of wild bears actually makes them less of a risk to people, decreasing their need or desire to go on to people’s property to scavenge for food.

The issue heated up earlier this fall when the bear activists learned that Solo was hibernating under the cabin. They wanted to place a webcam there to monitor her hibernation activities through the winter. The cabin owner didn’t like that idea, much less the thought of a bear and two cubs staying under the cabin for the winter.

The activists are hoping that other measures can be taken to make like with Solo more manageable, like giving residents pepper spray to scare her away, using electric fences to protect gardens and other property and increasing public awareness of keeping food and cooking utensils in bear-proof locations.

But the wildlife officials contend that Solo’s people-friendly habits are deeply engraned now and can’t be undone. Her cubs, however, still are young enough to learn more natural ways if they’re relocated.

What do you think should be done about this bear problem? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Ben's picture
Ben says:

I dont know any sane person who would want the risk of a momma black bear and her cubs living under their cabin. Bears are the most dangerous when they have cubs to protect. This seems like the right time to kill the mom and move the cubs before anyone is hurt or the cubs learn her bad habits.

posted on Thu, 12/20/2007 - 8:08am
Dina's picture
Dina says:

Kill the mum? I´m so sad to read that you know nothing about bears!!

posted on Sun, 01/23/2011 - 5:03am
vitlady3's picture
vitlady3 says:

FACT: This cabin is UNOCCUPIED. Solo and her cubs are no threat to anyone. She roamed her territory in that area all summer and was no threat. Now she is a threat because she's hibernating? Give me a break. I am a lifelong resident of Minnesota. I took a bear course at the Wildlife Research Instiute in Ely, Minnesota last summer. To say that "bears are most dangerous when they have cubs" proves that you know NOTHING about bear behavior and you are making some pretty strong statements considering you know nothing about Solo. Black bear cubs don't run to their mother for protection, they escape up a tree. Grizzly bear cubs run to their mother for protection. In fact 70% of grizzly bear attacks resulting in someone's death are due to a mother defending her cubs. There is no documented case of a black bear mother killing someone to protect her cubs. If people like you Ben continue to perpetuate this myth, bears will always be viewed as "dangerous." This bear has learned to trust individuals because people in the township have fed bears for years and they enjoy watching them. Ben, to say that "this is the right time to kill the Mom and move the cubs" is an outrageous statement. I would encourage you to visit the North American Bear Center in Ely this summer. I learned more about bears in 4 days than I have my entire 40 years of living in this state. I no longer fear bears. In fact, their lives are ruled by fear. Most bear behavior that is viewed as threatening is actually fear on the bears part. One last fact: Solo has NEVER threatened, harmed or hurt anyone. She has done NOTHING to merit being destroyed or relocated.

posted on Sat, 12/22/2007 - 1:26am
Ben's picture
Ben says:

Ok, you go pet the loving scared bears... I know nothing, bears love us all...
If the land is unoccupied then I also see no reason to kill Solo. Only if she is an immediate threat should she be dealt with in that fashion. A bear that has no fear of humans is a threat; pure and simple. I have had a few black bears run past me at my cabin and I didnt feel the need to shoot them but they were already moving away from me. If I were living in the cabin and the bear had no fear of me I would feel justified in removing the bear in any way nessisary. If one of you would like to come and pet the bear and ask it nicely to move to different land that would be great but I dont think it will work.

posted on Mon, 12/24/2007 - 8:43am
northwoods's picture
northwoods says:

Uh hello?? Seems to me this person was talking about an unoccupied cabin. According to Webster's dictionary I think that means that no one would be "living in" the cabin that the bear is under. I googled "solo the bear" and tons of stories popped up. Looks to me like the cabin owner would have never know the bear was there if the owner had not been approached for permission of a den cam to watch the bears over the winter. Guess the cabin owner wouldn't have known due to that unoccupied cabin eh? Vitlady3........give it up cause you can't reason with unreasonable people. Ben must be a city boy who obtained all of this knowledge from books. He obviously isn't interested in the 30+ years of research biologist Lynn Rogers has obtained from studying these animals and who is an expert on bear behavior. I read that Dr. Rogers stated this bear is not a threat and has never threatened anyone. But what would he know? He's only studied probably a hundred bears during that time. He wouldn't be a good judge of body language, behaviors, sounds, etc. Didn't read where anyone made the suggestion to run out and pet this bear or any other bear for that matter. Ignorant comments should be expected from the mouths of uninformed individuals.

posted on Thu, 12/27/2007 - 12:22am
Ann from Ely's picture
Ann from Ely says:

Ignorant comments should be expected from the mouths of uninformed individuals! A great saying! I live in Ely and have no need to get to know the bears on a personal level. Bears are wild animals and should stay that way! One of these days there will be a horrible thing that happens to an innocent person with a wild bear! IT WILL HAPPEN! I don't claim to have any experience with bears, but I do know we as humans are not meant to live with wild animals! That means bears, wolves, moose, or any other wild critter! And for someone to say they took a "course" on bears means nothing! To become a DNR officer it takes more than a "course" to learn the things they need to know to do their job! You cannot possibly learn everything you need to know about bears in a course taught by one person. I have family that lives close to Lynn Rogers and his "study bears" Those bears have in the past, broke into my brothers house 2 times, destroyed many bird feeders and have no fright with people - SCARY!!!!
Please leave the animals alone and don't feed them!! They are not pets!

posted on Mon, 01/14/2008 - 3:01pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

SOLO HAS BEEN A PEST.....SHE HAS COME RIGHT UP TO A GROWN MAN WHO WAS BENT OVER WORKING ON HIS DOCK AND PUSHED HIM ON HIS SHOULDER. WHEN THE MAN STOOD UP AND BEGAN TO WALK TO HIS TRUCK SOLO WALKED BACK AND FORTH INFRONT OF HIM ,,,AND TOSSED HER HEAD TO AND FROE ..AS IF SHE WERE BEGGING FOR FOOD. THE CABIN OWNER NEVER ASKED TO HAVE SOLO KILLED JUST MOVED OUT FROM UNDER HER PLACE...AS THE OWNER SHE HAS RIGHTS.. LYNN ROGERS SHOULD STOP FEEDING HIS BEARS OFF OF HIS DECK AND ASK OTHERS TO DO THE SAME.....I DON'T THINK THAT WE AS HUMANS ARE SUPPOSED TO OR SHOULD BE EXPECTED TO HAVE BEARS ON OUR DECKS AT SUPPER TIME BEGGING FOR FOOD LIKE THE NEIGHBORS DOG WOULD. THIS IS THE FAULT OF THE FOLKS THAT HAND FEED THE BEARS AT LYNN ROGERS ENCOURGMENT AND LYNN HIMSELF FEEDING THE BEARS OF HIS PORCH AND DECK...MAYBE HE NEEDS TO STUDY THESE BEARS OUT IN THE WILD AND NOT IN OUR BACK YARDS!!!!!!!

posted on Wed, 01/16/2008 - 7:55pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

"SHE HAS COME RIGHT UP TO A GROWN MAN WHO WAS BENT OVER WORKING ON HIS DOCK AND PUSHED HIM ON HIS SHOULDER. WHEN THE MAN STOOD UP AND BEGAN TO WALK TO HIS TRUCK SOLO WALKED BACK AND FORTH INFRONT OF HIM ,,,AND TOSSED HER HEAD TO AND FROE ..AS IF SHE WERE BEGGING FOR FOOD."

I THINK YOU ARE DESCRIBING AN EPISODE OF YOGI BEAR. WHEN THE MAN DID NOT GIVE THE BEAR HIS FOOD, THE BEAR SWUNG BY ON A VINE AND GRABBED IT FROM HIM!!! YOU ARE RIGHT TO BE CONCERNED, THOUGH. IT WAS A VERY SCARY EPISODE. THE BEAR WAS WEARING A HAT AND TIE, AND BECAUSE BEARS CAN'T BUY CLOTHES, I THINK IT MUST HAVE KILLED SOMEONE AND TAKEN THEIR HAT AND TIE.

posted on Wed, 01/16/2008 - 10:18pm
Dina's picture
Dina says:

Your back yards? I think that the bears were there first!

posted on Sun, 01/23/2011 - 5:07am
Thor's picture
Thor says:

No more local worries about Solo. She and her cubs have been relocated to a wildlife preserve in Michigan. You can all walk/work safely on your docks in the Ely area now.

posted on Thu, 01/17/2008 - 5:03pm
vitlady3's picture
vitlady3 says:

You would be more credible if you didn't HIDE behind your anonymous post. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the negative posts about Dr. Lynn Rogers came from the same family.

You are grossly exaggerating the incident with the person who was touched by Solo because "he" sure recalled the story a lot different than what you are saying. Reminds me of some of the false statements by the DNR. The only thing you accomplish is to create unreasonable fear.

How much schooling does one need to become a DNR rep? From the recent events it looks like one needs to know how to operate a chainsaw so that while capturing bears one would be efficient while cutting down a tree in order to drop a bear cub 40 feet or so to the ground. What a rewarding job that must be.

Ann from Ely: Maybe if you took the time to visit the North American Bear Center and attended one of those "courses" that means nothing, perhaps your views wouldn't be so colored with fear. We fear what we don't know. I'll bet if you took a little bit of time to learn about bear behavior you might feel differently. If you're not interested in coexisting with wildlife, when why live in a state with over 20,000 black bears?

You gripe about feeders being ripped down or destroyed. Go the the Minnesota DNR's website and type in "living with bears" in the search area. It says right on their web site to REMOVE attractants to minimize bear problems on your property and goes so far as to include garbage, bird feeders, suet, pet food, et. etc. When you live in bear country and don't take your feeders down you have no one to blame but yourself. You people complain but aren't willing to take the necessary steps to discourage bears from coming around. Isn't that a bit hypocritical?

Isn't it true that most people enjoyed seeing Solo? Those who are afraid, complain. You want to be able to leave food out and not have bears in your yard. I don't get it.

If the cabin owner just wanted the bear out and not killed then that would have been pretty simple to do without involving the DNR now wouldn't it have? What is the 14 member Community Bear Committee for? Didn't they specifically develop a plan for the township regarding coexisting with wildlife in a natural setting.? The majority of community wants to put this plan into action. It's really sad that a few bad apples have to upset the whole cart.

I grew up in Grand Marais out in the country. Our nearest neighbor was 2 miles away. There was no food or bird feeders on our deck yet bears came on the deck. Whose fault was that? To blame Lynn Rogers for having a bear on your deck is absurd, especially when you leave attractants out.

Residents in the Eagles Nest area have voluntarily fed bears for what, 30-40 years and you want to blame Lynn Rogers for what exactly? People were feeding bears long before Dr. Rogers ever came into town.

"And one day there will be a horrible thing that happens to an innocent person?" Let's look at some FACTS: for each person killed by a black bear in North America, dogs kill 45 people, bees kill 120, lightning about 249, and people kill about 60,000 people. Basically that's about 1 black bear out of a million yet one person out of 18,000 murders someone. I think I'll take my chances with the bears.

posted on Sun, 01/20/2008 - 2:30am
Ann from Ely's picture
Ann from Ely says:

vitlady3, YOU NEED TO GET A GRIP! Who the are you or anyone else to play God? Leave the bears alone! Are you or anyone else going to take the responsibility when some young child thinks they can kiss a bear as Lynn Rogers does at the center and ends up getting mauled? Are you willing to take that chance with someone else's life? And by the way, I have been to the Bear Center - it still does not make me want to feed or play with the bears! They are wild animals, that must mean if you want to hang with them you must be "wild" yourself. Do you understand the point I am trying to make? Another point that you don't get - I have lived in Ely 12 years along with my husband who has lived here all his life and we have bird feeders out all year every year I have been here and only have seen one bear! And it was very afraid when we made noise! Unlike the bears that have intruded into my brothers families home out where Lynn has been "buddies" with these bears and show no fright towards people while they destroy the inside of their house. Please don't pretend you have all the answers to natures wild animals!

posted on Mon, 01/21/2008 - 10:45am
UpNorth's picture
UpNorth says:

Solo's worst crime was eating from bird feeders. Most of the community wanted to work with this bear family. The DNR ignored the citizens, the CBC (community bear committee) and the researchers. The DNR wasn't interested in speaking with ANYONE who could provide them with facts. Instead they breathed fear into the public with false statements.

Solo spent most of her time in her territory and on private property when wolves moved into her territory. When she discovered bird feeders at homes she was welcomed at some and not at others. Those who didn't want her around made no effort to deter her. In fact some residents started a petition with complaints. One of the complainers who signed the petition had 17 BIRD FEEDERS in their yard. Now if this isn't the pot calling the kettle black then tell me what is? Attractants weren't removed but the gripers continued griping wanting to have NO ownership in the fact that they were part of the problem not the solution.

After a town meeting a 14 member committee was formed to develop a plan for "coexisting with wildlife in a natural setting". Tom Rusch of the DNR continued with his agenda and recommended removing Solo and her cubs and phasing out the research. He didn't recommend that residents remove their feeds though. The board unanimously approved the plan from the bear committee. Not only did the DNR reject it, they wouldn't even acknowledge it and wanted to kill Solo. They say on their website though that destroying a bear would be a "last resort" but they made it the only resort and didn't even TRY to have the complaining residents remove their bird feeders.

Once pardoned by the Governor and her life spared, Solo was doomed to a life of captivity. She did nothing to merit this decision and neither did her cubs. Solo was a calm, gentle, trusting bear. The haters could have worked with her to deter her. The majority of the community wanted to do that. The haters want drama and they got it didn't they?

When the bears were captured on Monday the 14th, the DNR dropped a 55 foot tree which one cub was clinging to at the top. The DNR wants us to believe they captured these bears unharmed? I don't buy it and the public shouldn't either.

The complainers need to grow up and start taking some responsibility for their actions. If you want to live in bear country and don't want bears around then remove the bird feeders or find another state to live in.

posted on Mon, 01/21/2008 - 1:59am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Ann at least we agree on something.............LEAVE THE BEARS ALONE! If you were interested in the facts you wouldn't perpetuate the same fear mongering that the DNR has.

The fact you've only seen one bear even though you have feeders up must mean the other years were good food years. It's proven through research that bears prefer to forage for their own natural foods and will supplent their diet with other foods easily obtained when their natural foods become scarce.

Your statement, "I have been to the Bear Center - it still does not make me want to feed or play with the bears"... You know that no one has talked of playing with wild bears. The bears at NABC, meaning Ted, Honey and Lucky (yes they do have names) were RAISED in captivity. The interactions with them can't even be compared to the bears in the wild. You're just grasping at straws at this point because you know that your statements are less than credible. You didn't like any of the FACTS presented in my last post which is why you continue to propagate fear.

Here is the web address for the Minnesota DNR: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/index.html In the search area type in "living with bears" and see what the DNR has to say about leaving your bird feeders and other attractants out. It's pretty informative. You should check it out.

I have no intentions of becoming "best buds" with a bear I might encounter while hiking or camping but I don't need to run the other direction either. It's quite liberating to no longer be terrified of bears, now I can enjoy watching them. After all, I choose to live in this state my entire life because of the beauty AND the wildlife. If you don't want to coexist with wildlife then don't live in Minnesota.

posted on Mon, 01/21/2008 - 3:49pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

There is a great discussion going on here, and I don't want to stifle it, but I would ask all the posters for this story to remember our community guidelines.

We welcome all perspectives, but offensive or inappropriate comments/stories will not be posted.

What do we consider offensive? If your post or comment is abusive, obscene, threatening, harassing, defamatory, libelous, profane, racist, etc, we won't allow it.

So, for example, I approved the post above, but I edited out some of the more abusive language. There was nothing foul, just leaning towards personal attacks - and I have done this with other posts in this thread as well.

Remember, you can get your point across without attacking the other person. I understand folks are taking a personal stake in this issue - and well they should. Also remember that everyone has a right to their opinion, and that treating folks with respect in a discussion such as this will further your goals much better than abusive language or personal attacks.

Let's keep the discussion going - but let's keep it civil.

posted on Mon, 01/21/2008 - 4:08pm
vitlady3's picture
vitlady3 says:

I forgot to include my name in the Mon 1/21/08 post at 3:49 p.m. It was not my intention to post anonymously. I also don't think individuals who are against the research are going to see eye to eye with those who believe in it in the near future. This is really unfortunate. It is easy to want to attack someone else's character when emotions run high. We are admittedly entitled to our own opinions. It would be so great if individuals in the community could respectful talk to each other in order to resolve these issues. As long as we all choose to live in bear country, these issues won't go away anytime soon.

posted on Mon, 01/21/2008 - 7:29pm
Ann from Ely's picture
Ann from Ely says:

First of all the issue really is not about the birdseed. Its about the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that a certain resident tends to feed the bears every day from what I am told by a neighbor of this person.. Things like that is what bothers me. The bears have berries, nuts and many other things they eat from the woods as what they are meant to eat. So if people would just let them alone and not feed them or try to be friends with them, Solo and her cubs would not be in the situation they are in. They would be in the wild as God meant them to be! So people, keep feeding the bears and we will have more issues like this one.

posted on Tue, 01/22/2008 - 11:30am
Chas's picture
Chas says:

What happened to Solo?

posted on Mon, 06/23/2008 - 7:45pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

No way! Just let the bear sleep. When it wakes up trap or tranqualize it and move it to a new location far from the people and food sources it knows.

posted on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 10:46am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I lived in the woods outside Ely and I am always surprised that some tourist or local has not been seriously bitten, taken down or mauled to death by a bear each year. It just takes one aggressive bear and a split second or so.

For those of you that haven't had the pleasure of a "Close Encounter", I guarrantee they are faster, stronger and more determined than your worst nightmare if they deside to attack you. Heck, you don't have to believe me, just get careless, mess around with or tease one for fun. A poke with a sharp stick might get you a faster demonstration.

A woman was seriously attacked and badly mauled recently in CA. while working on her property. She knew what she was doing in the outdoors, even carried a side arm and had her two very big dogs nearby. It made NO difference to that bear who saw his chance, charged and took her down.

When the bear cannonballed her, she had no time for anything. She would have died on that spot if it wasn't for her manstaff and wolfhound coming to her aid when the bear released it's gripe on her face long enough to get a scream off.

Even the so-called experts might appreciate a gun and two monster fighing dogs if you aren't exactly on friendly terms and swapping spit with a fast charging black bear at close quarters. Last minute prayers and religious conversions don't appear to be very effective against fast charging bears although individual mileage my vary depending on your Gods.

A well prepared outdoors working woman with a sidearm and two massive dogs not far off. Yep, it never fails to amaze me that all the campers, fishermen, tourists and so-called local bear experts live to make "Morning Roll Call" at the cafe or Dee's Bar Happy Hour... around Ely ways.

Of course, I'm no bar stool, bear school or Phd idiot bear expert, but I have been more than lucky on occassion. If you ever should be so stupid and arrogant to think that you know how a black bear thinks, then THAT bear has really got you FOOLED !

posted on Mon, 08/11/2008 - 3:09am

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0jmvdh.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options