DNR defends decision to shoot bear in St. Paul - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

DNR defends decision to shoot bear in St. Paul

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Officials are defending the decision to shoot and kill a bear that was found in a St. Paul neighborhood over the weekend, a move that upset some residents who thought the bear should have been tranquilized and transported to a safe place.

The Department of Natural Resources has two policies when dealing with bears -- one for the Twin Cities, and one for the rest of the state. So what's the big difference? One has deadly consequences for wayward bears.

Granted, it doesn't happen all that often -- which means this topic bears repeating.

Just last week, a bear in Colorado strayed too close to a populated area. So, officers in the area tranquilized it and moved it, but that's a far cry from what happened in the Frogtown neighborhood.

On Sunday morning, a 200-pound black bear climbed a tree in the neighborhood. When it climbed down, officers fatally shot the animal -- and Joni Hagen watched everything from her front yard.

"The rifle went off first, then two shots," she recalled. "Then, it sounded like a 21-gun salute at a funeral. That poor bear."

The St. Paul Police Department says it was the DNR's call to put the bear down. So, FOX 9 News asked the department's bear guru in Grand Rapids to see why tranquilizers weren't used. He said they simply don't have the manpower of the equipment to handle a task like that safely.

Since bears come into the metro so infrequently, the DNR believes it isn't worth the investment of equipment and training -- especially since tranquilizing a bear doesn't always end well.

In fact, the DNR says there are plenty of things that can go wrong when people aren't specifically trained to tranquilize bears, some of which include;

The animal waking up early and running away in a panic

Missing and causing the animal to flee into traffic, possibly causing a crash

In 2006, the DNR decided its urban bear policy would focus on keeping city-folk safe. That means bears found within the Interstate 494 and Interstate 694 loop are considered an imminent public safety threat.

Outside the metro area, the DNR usually works to keep people away from the animal and allow it to return to the woods.

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