Sheriff, DNR says sightings haven’t been reported but they offer precautions on subject
by Nathan Warner
Area residents sighted at least one black bear in Zimmerman this past week.
Kathryn Schleifer said she was driving on County Road 45 going to the Dairy Queen Monday evening, when she and her husband spotted a bear near 273rd Avenue in the middle of the road.
“At first, I thought it was a huge black Lab or a Rottweiler,” she said, expressing concern it might be hit by a passing vehicle, “but then the closer we got, the larger it got until it loped off the road into the woods behind Freshwaters Church near Highway 169.”
As Schleifer spread the word, she learned other people also had seen a bear in the area. She said her main concern is for children playing in the heavily residential area near where she sighted the bear.
A spokesperson for the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office said dispatch has not received any recent calls about bears in the Zimmerman area.
Nicholas Snavely, the assistant area wildlife manager of the Sauk Rapids/St. Cloud DNR office which oversees Sherburne County, said their office has not received any recent calls either, but added that bear sightings are common in Zimmerman this time of year and people should not be surprised if they see one.
“There is a six to seven-month period when bears are active,” he said. “Summer and autumn are particularly active foraging times for bears as they prepare for winter.”
Snavely mentioned some useful tips for preventing bear problems, which include avoiding putting garbage cans outdoors until pickup day, bringing barbecue grills indoors when not in use and not using bird feeders in spring and summer.
He added that if a bear enters your yard or property, don’t panic, shoot or approach the bear. Always leave the bear an escape route and stay indoors.
If there is no food source in your yard, the bear will most likely leave, he said.
DNR literature available on their website reminds readers that people should always be cautious around bears. Once bears associate humans with food, they may become frequent visitors to the area.
People are asked to contact a DNR area wildlife office for assistance with bears only if you have persistent bear problems after cleaning up food sources that attract them.
For more information on bears, visit the DNR’s website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/livingwith_wildlife/bears or call the Sauk Rapids/St. Cloud DNR area office at 320-255-4279.