Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Bear, flooded out of culvert, gets DNR ride to new hibernation location

The big male was unable to get out of deep snow after its long winter nap was interrupted.

hibernating bear moved 2
A bear that tried to spend the winter in a culvert was displaced due to melting snow. DNR wildlife officials moved it to a safer location to spend the rest of its winter hibernation.
Contributed / Minnesota DNR

WANNASKA, Minn. — A bear that tried to spend the winter in a culvert outside of Wannaska in northwestern Minnesota's Roseau County had to be rescued Monday morning when the culvert filled with melting snow and the bear couldn't get out of a deep snow drift.

The big bruin apparently had been hibernating in the culvert under a road, not uncommon for bears. But the bear wasn't able to free itself from deep snow and needed a little help from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Andrew Tri, DNR bear biologist, said he got the call from local DNR wildlife officials Sunday who responded to reports from the public that the bear appeared in distress.

“Every year about this time we get calls of people seeing wet bears along a road. ... It's because they hibernate in culverts and then, when things melt a little like they did over the weekend, they need to get out,” Tri told the News Tribune. “This guy tried to go down and out the other side of the culvert, but where he tried to come up in a low spot, the snow was so deep there from the snow plows, he couldn't get out. He was stuck like Winnie the Pooh in the honey jar.”

Tri anesthetized the bear and then it took five people — including Tri, conservation officers and a deputy sheriff — to pull him out and get him loaded in the truck using a sling device designed to rescue people injured in remote areas. The bear was taken to a wildlife refuge near the Thief Lake Wildlife Area, Tri said, where it'll be safe for the rest of winter.


Tri examined the bear and pronounced it healthy. He estimates the bear was about 6 years old and weighed nearly 400 pounds.

hibernating bear moved
This bear apparently tried to spend the winter in a culvert near Wannaska in northwestern Minnesota but was forced out due to melting snow. The DNR moved the sleepy bear to a wildlife sanctuary for the rest of winter.
Contributed / Minnesota DNR

DNR wildlife experts are asking the public not to bother any hibernating bears they come across in winter, either on your own property or in the wild. In this case some well-meaning folks tried to dig out the bear. They also served it up a smorgasbord of six Pop Tarts, a head of lettuce, a dead sucker minnow, some Fancy Feast cat food, bird seed and a Swedish Fish. That was probably well-intentioned, the DNR noted, but not exactly healthy food for wild bears. The bear didn’t eat any of the food it was offered.

Anyone who thinks a bear may be in trouble can call a DNR wildlife office or state conservation officer.

Apply now for once-in-a-lifetime northern Wisconsin elk hunt this fall.
"The same Sun gives us all the energy we need to live, and the Earth’s magnetic field protects us when that energy becomes intense. Together, they make magic," writes Emily Stone.
Opening day saw thigh-deep snow in places along the river but otherwise decent conditions.
Studies are probing steelhead and brook trout genetics, as well as all fish diets during a lake herring boom.
Most of the region will have a fairly quiet and uneventful weekend in terms of weather, but another system is set to slide across Wisconsin.
"While the frog call animation that started my reflection on phenology indicates that we could hear wood frogs as early as the end of March, I expect that spring will be late," writes Emily Stone.
Options abound for "froggers" to get out counting croaks.
Last fall's steelhead run was down a bit from 2021 and from the long-term average.
Temperatures will be cold for any St. Patricks Day Parades
The event will take place from 6-8:30 p.m. April 4 at Northwestern Middle School.
Researchers are always looking for new bears to add to the Wisconsin Black Bear Project, so if you know of a bear den in Ashland, Bayfield, Price, or Sawyer counties, contact Dr. Sartini at csartini@uwsp.edu.
A University of Minnesota Sea Grant scientist has developed a widget to predict when it will occur. Sort of.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
What To Read Next
Get Local