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UPDATED: Adult bear and cub sighted in northern Jackson County

JACKSON -- The Jackson County Sheriff's Office has reported the sighting of an adult black bear and cub in Delafield Township, south of Wilder in northern Jackson County.

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JACKSON - The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office has reported the sighting of an adult black bear and cub in Delafield Township, south of Wilder in northern Jackson County.

At 9:28 p.m. Tuesday, the sheriff’s office received a phone call of a possible black bear sighting. A motorist reported seeing the bear cross the road and enter a field.

Two Jackson County deputies and a Minnesota State Trooper searched the area and observed the bear and cub in a nearby grove. The bears were left alone to continue on their way.

Conservation Officer Mike Gruhlke was contacted by deputies to inform him of the confirmed sighting.

Gruhlke on Wednesday said this is the first black bear sighting he’s heard of in Jackson County. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has an interactive map on its website for the public to report bear sightings. While the site does not contain dates of sightings, the map shows the nearest bear sightings have been reported near Sleepy Eye, Cambria and Amboy, all to the east or northeast.

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Gruhlke doesn’t mind if people take the time or have the opportunity to see the bears - it’s so far a rare experience to see one in southwest Minnesota - but the public should keep their distance.

“Like any wild animals, give them space, give them an out,” he advises. “What we do know is in the state of Minnesota, bears and people do coexist and do it comfortably.

“I don’t view this as a bad thing and something that people should stay indoors over,” Gruhlke added. “If they notice (the bears), they should not try to confine them or get between the two - just give them their room.”

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office stated in a press release that bears typically are quite shy and will leave when encountered by people. However, they request that if the bears are seen, the public is asked to continue to notify law enforcement and also file a report online with the DNR at http://bit.ly/2LHN1QC so that the whereabouts can be monitored.

According to the DNR, Minnesota is home to roughly 12,000 to 15,000 black bears. They are found mainly in the northern third of Minnesota, where they live in forests, swamps and areas with dense cover. Their range, however, has slowly expanded south and west.

“It’s anybody’s guess as to where these may have come from,” Gruhlke said. “Maybe the habitat is shifting and they’re growing into a new habitat. It’s to be determined. It’s information we’re seeking when people report sightings.”

While the bears have not posed any problems thus far, Gruhlke said the DNR does not relocate problem bears to other locations.

“We will not be trapping them for causing minor damage like knocking down bird feeders or tipping over garbage cans,” he said.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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