There have been four reported bear sightings in Elk River this month, including two on Saturday, June 23.
In one of those June 23 cases, a man told police that he was in his driveway in the 13000 block of Islandview Drive when a black bear wandered into his yard. He placed his children inside a vehicle and climbed on the hood. The bear did not immediately leave the area, but the man was eventually able to get into his vehicle and repeatedly honk the horn, which made the bear walk away. Elk River police were called to the scene at 9:14 p.m., but the officer was unable to locate the bear.
In the other bear sighting that day, a man in the 80 block of Morton Avenue reported a bear in a neighbor’s yard about 5:30 p.m. Police and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources responded, but the bear was gone when they arrived.
“We usually have a few sightings per year, but this does seem like more than normal,” according to Elk River Police Capt. Bob Kluntz.
There have been other scattered sightings in the area.
In May, a bear killed a dog in Livonia Township. That incident happened in a back yard on 261st Avenue east of Zimmerman almost at the Isanti County line. The female bear was with three cubs feeding at a bird feeder at the time of the attack.
Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott said at the time that it’s not rare for bears to be spotted in Sherburne County, but it is rare for there to be an incident like that one.
Meanwhile, bears have also been seen in Elk River’s neighbor to the east — Ramsey.
There have more than 15 sightings of bears over the last two weeks, Police Chief Jim Way said recently.
With a plentiful food supply in their normal habitat, it is likely the high water along the rivers is pushing the bears to drier areas, he said.
Bears, including at least one cub, have been spotted near the Armstrong Boulevard and 167th Lane area of town as well as near Elmcrest Park, off Highway 47.
Bears have been spotted raiding bird feeders and garbage cans.
As they like bird seed, raising the bird feeds higher will make it more difficult for the bears to get at, Way said.
He also recommended residents secure their garbage cans or put them in the garage.
For residents who spot a bear while out using the city trails, Way recommends slowly backing away and not engaging them.
There have been no confrontations between the bears and residents, Way said.
Kluntz offered these additional tips:
•Make the bear aware of your presence, don’t surprise them.
•Don’t run from them, back away slowly.
•Scare the bear away: yell, make noise.
•Make sure to leave the bear an escape route. Don’t corner them, so they think they have to fight.