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Bear takes hike through central Cloquet

A young black bear peeks out from the branches of a tree on the 300 block of Sixth Street in Cloquet Monday, just a half block away from the middle school. The bear eventually came down without incident and hasn't been heard from since. Jana Peterson/jpeterson@

A young black bear was the star attraction in central Cloquet Monday, much to its dismay.

Residents of the 300 block of Sixth Street reported the bear -- which had climbed up a tree in someone's backyard to escape barking dogs -- to the police just before 5 p.m. Monday. Before that, likely the same black bear had been spotted near Atkins-Northland Funeral Home on 14th Street.

Deputy Cloquet Police Chief Terry Hill said police and a local conservation officer determined the best course of action was to encourage everyone to leave the bear alone and let it come down in its own time.

The best thing to do when a bear makes an appearance is generally "enjoy the moment from a safe distance," said Chris Balzer, Department of Natural Resources area wildlife manager.

"People want to gather around, but a bear won't come down if it's surrounded by a bunch of people or dogs," Balzer said. "They're generally afraid of people, but they are large enough, you need to treat them with respect. And you never want to surprise or corner a bear."

Remember how Yogi Bear was always on the make for the next picnic basket?

The problem with bears comes when they become a nuisance. And the underlying reason for nuisance bears is almost always food, Balzer said, adding that bird feeders and garbage are the No. 1 culprits.

His recommended course of action?

"Put the garbage in a garage or shed and take the bird feeder down," he said, adding that sunflower seeds and suet seem to be bear favorites.

Balzer said people should keep in mind that bears need to eat enough for 12 months in the six or seven months they're not hibernating.

"They just want to eat all the time," he said. "If there's nothing in your yard they want to eat, they won't want to spend a lot of time in your yard."

Balzer said he took four calls about bears on Tuesday and two on Wednesday morning.

He said people should call 911 if they feel their safety is threatened. Those who have issues with nuisance bears can call Balzer at 218-879-0880, extension 233, for advice.