Bear sightings bother residents in north metro 'burbs - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Bear sightings bother residents in north metro 'burbs

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RAMSEY, Minn. (KMSP) -

Black bears are stopping metro residents in their tracks, with sightings stretching from Ramsey to Hugo and as far south as Maple Grove.

Though the bears are small, weighing in at about 90 pounds, they're still big enough to give neighbors quite a scare.

"It was on a mission," recalled John Fluegel, who said he could barely speak when a black bear barreled through his Ramsey yard. "It went through my wife's flower garden."

Normally, no one walks through the Fluegels' garden without a scolding, but the bear crossed just 20 feet in front of Fluegel -- leaving tracks as it went -- before jumping a fence and taking off.

"We've lived here for 30 years, and this is the first I've heard of it," Fluegel said. "It was surprising. I was in awe."

Still, Flugel was able to snap a photo of the small bear before it left -- but down the road at Elm Creek Park Reserve, another small bear was busted by the cops.

"He laid eyes on me," recalled Officer J.T. Cross, with the Three Rivers Park District. "I said, 'OK, I probably should skedaddle here,' and slowly got up and walked into the woods."

A few seconds later, officers spotted a second bear about 120-130 yards ahead -- marking one of ten sightings in just the past two weeks.

No one has been hurt by a bear, but they certainly seem plenty hungry because they're getting into trash cans, leaving muddy paw prints and claw marks behind.

Park managers said they aren't exactly sure why more bears are migrating to the metro, but neighbors say they hope the uninvited guests don't get to comfortable in the area.

A Department of Natural Resources wildlife specialist said it's not unusual to have multiple bear sightings in the northern metro, but this is the first time in a few years they have been spotted in the Elm Creek Park Reserve.

Officials say the bears are likely only one or two years old, and are roaming away from their mothers for the first time. Typically, bears fear people and won't attack, but it's important to keep trash and other alluring food sources out of reach to keep the bears at bay.

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