GRAND MARAIS, Minn. -- A black bear somehow worked its way into a truck in Grand Marais early Monday, and then apparently locked itself inside the vehicle and couldn’t get out.
By the time someone could get the door open to let the bear out it had destroyed the inside of the truck.
“Apparently it got into a few vehicles that night and ultimately ended up getting into this truck and having the door shut, then locked it so it couldn’t get out,” noted Mary Manning, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer who was called to the scene after the Sept. 6 ordeal. The bear “made quite a mess of things as I would guess it was freaked out by being trapped inside. It did quite a bit of damage to the truck, rendering it inoperable.”
But the story that unfolded in the predawn darkness didn’t end there.
The bear was eventually let out of the truck but then immediately charged its rescuer who shot the bear dead. Manning said the shooting appeared warranted “in self-defense.”
It’s not the first incident of bears getting into cars and trucks in the Northland this summer as bears are desperate to find any food they can. The ongoing severe drought has limited the amount of berries, acorns, hazelnuts and other natural foods in the woods, sending bears into conflict with humans as the bruins seek out bird seed, dog food, garbage, apples, garden crops, candy bars and more.
“We appear to have at least a few (bears) who have figured out how to use the door handles,’’ said Manning, who patrols the woods and waters in eastern Cook County near the Ontario border. “Grand Marais has had a number of reports of bears getting into cars, some with food (inside the vehicle) and some without.”
The situation was bad news for the truck’s owner, and the bear, Manning noted. But a couple did claim the bear and salvaged the meat, she noted, so it wasn’t wasted.
Earlier this summer Manning responded to a call of a bear that stole a backpack off a portage in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The backpack contained some candy bars and a loaded handgun. Manning and a Forest Service officer went into the woods and recovered the backpack and unfired gun. The candy bars were missing.
Minnesota has an estimated 12,000-15,000 black bears. The bear hunting season started Sept. 1 and runs through Oct. 17 with hunters expected to harvest about 3,000 bear this year.