Spring is here, and bears have emerged from their den and they are hungry after that long winter hibernation. Minnesota is bear country, and we have a lot of black bears across the state. Sometimes, they can become a problem.

The biggest reason a bear is coming to your property is because of food sources. Once a bear finds a food source, they'll keep coming back. You need to bear-proof your property.

Black bear laying on a cabin porch

How do I bear-proof my property?

  • Remove bird feeders in the spring
  • Store trash in a secure area like a sturdy shed or garage. Ask your trash hauler about bear-proof garbage can options.
  • Wash your garbage cans regularly to reduce odors
  • Store meat trash in the freezer until trash day
  • Don't put food waste in your compost pile.
  • If you do put food scraps in your compost pile, cover it immediately with 6 inches or more of brown materials, like leaves or grass.
  • Harvest your garden produce as soon as it matures
  • Pick up ripe fruit from fruit trees
  • Clean your BBQ grill and store it in a garage or sturdy shed
  • Keep doors and windows shut when you are not home. Bears can push through screens and enter your home.
A Black Bear is looking out of a Forest in Canada

Things you absolutely shouldn't do with bears.

  • Don't ever feed a bear. This teaches them to come back. The DNR says that even if you don't mind bears on your property, your neighbors probably will. This will lead to conflicts and the unnecessary death of a black bear.
  • Don't leave pet food outside.

Related: Wait, Is That A Brown Bear In Minnesota?

Can I legally shoot a nuisance bear on my property in Minnesota?

The Minnesota DNR concedes that sometimes a problem bear must be killed. The DNR only kills bears when they have been determined to be a public safety threat. It doesn't happen often. In fact, it happens less than 6 times per year on average.

However, homeowners and farm owners kill the majority of black bears. It is legal if the bear is causing significant property damage or creating an immediate danger to people or animals.

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You should contact your DNR Area Wildlife Manager first.

Overturned trash cans and destroyed bird feeders aren't serious enough problems to warrant killing a bear. You should discuss the nuisance with your local DNR Area Wildlife Manager first. Killing a bear is the last resort, and should only be done when you have tried other methods listed above to deter the bears.

Can I keep the bear if I shoot it?

Nope. You can't keep the meat if you shoot the bear. That's because the bear is the property of the State of Minnesota. You need to contact the DNR as soon as possible to make sure the meat can be salvaged. By law, you need to report the killing within 48 hours.

Can't the DNR trap and relocate the bear?

The DNR used to relocate bears by trapping them, but they stopped doing that in 2000. They found that it didn't help solve anything, because the main problem was the food source. Without addressing that issue, other bears would come anyway.

States with the most registered hunters

Stacker analyzed data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine which states have the most registered hunters. Read on to see how your state ranks on Stacker’s list.

Gallery Credit: Meagan Drillinger

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