Please Don't Shoot Radio-Collared Bears
Though it is still legal for hunters to shoot radio-collared bears, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking bear hunters not to do so this year. In previous years the DNR emphasized that radio-collared bears were legal game and encouraged hunters who shot collared bears to inform the DNR and to leave the collar at the bear registration station. These regulations and procedures have not changed. However, research goals have changed and now focus more on bear reproduction and movements rather than bear mortality.
Last year the DNR made this same request, but some collared bears were killed because hunters could not see the collar, which was black. In an effort to improve collar visibility, most have been covered in blaze orange tape. However, DNR bear researcher Dave Garshelis noted that while this should help protect the collared bears, some bears will still likely get shot.
"Some hunters still may not see the collar, especially if it is covered by the bear's hair or the lighting is not good," Garshelis said. "We understand this and expect some collared bears to be shot. If that happens, hunters should inform the registration station and should not feel as though they have done anything wrong."
Hunters shooting a collared bear are also asked to immediately call the DNR Wildlife Research office in Grand Rapids at (218) 327-4146 or (218) 327-4159.
DNR officials emphasized that a hunter may still legally take a radio-collared bear, unless the bear is directly accompanied by a researcher who has identified the animal to the hunter as a research bear.