The Department of Natural Resources, (DNR,) has announced the death of the world’s oldest known black bear. “Bear Number 56,” as she was known to DNR representatives, died at the ripe old age of 39. Up until now, the oldest known black bear had lived to be 34 years old, and it has been found that most bears in the wild succumb to accidents or are shot by hunters before the age of 10.
DNR representatives had been studying Number 56 and following her progress as a mother of multiple litters since she was first radio collared in 1981. The news of her death is bittersweet, because although DNR employees will miss her, she had the rare opportunity to live a full life and die of natural causes.
There is always debate about which animals should be protected, which should be considered endangered, and which animals are posing a threat to other animal populations. The black bear has been the subject of this controversy, and more recently, Minnesotans in particular have debated the pros and cons of allowing people to hunt wolves.
There is a wide spectrum of beliefs when it comes to this debate, from the people who think that they should be able to hunt all animals, to those who think that all species should be protected. Most people fall somewhere in between, believing that seasonal and controlled hunts paired with scientific study and statistics- gathering are the best way to go.
Wherever you fall on this spectrum, the DNR is asking one favor of you. Please do not hunt bears that have radio collars!
The DNR has put a great deal of time, energy and expense in studying these bears, and would like to be able to continue gathering information in these longitudinal studies. Over the years the DNR has compiled a significant amount of information that has been a great addition to the field of bear biology.
Radio collars are about the size of a dog collar with a small electronic device on the front. To make them more easily visible, many of these bears will have what appears to be yellow and red ribbons around their collars, and/or brightly colored tags on their ears. If a hunter should kill a bear and then realize that the bear was collared, he or she is asked to contact the DNR so that this data can be gathered as well.
Hunting season for bears in Minnesota starts on September 1st and goes until October 13th. Hunters must have a bear hunting license. More information can be found about obtaining a license and hunting requirements at the following link-
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