Black bear sighted on north edge of Mankato

·2 min read

May 29—MANKATO — A young black bear visited the backyard of a residence on the north edge of Mankato Saturday night.

"At one point he was nose-to-nose with the window," said Jared Murry.

Murry and Felix Villa were watching television about 8:30 p.m. when the roommates noticed an animal moving around outdoors.

"At first, I thought it was a neighbor's cat; but then realized it was way too big," Murry said.

Villa began shooting video of the bear as its snooped around near a window then moved off across the yard and into a small group of trees.

"He stayed around about 3 1/2 minutes, then wandered off," said Murry, who then added that his backyard is on a ravine and near the Sakatah Trail.

Villa and Murry called the police, who connected them with a Department of Natural Resources representative.

"When I talked to the DNR officer he said they actually had a (recent) report that one had been spotted near Le Center," Murry said.

The DNR's bear sighting map indicates reports May 26 in the lakes area south of Cleveland, May 15 near the Le Sueur River south of Mankato and May 2 between Sleepy Eye and New Ulm.

Bear sightings help DNR researchers collect data on bear territory in Minnesota. Since the launch of the map in 2018, there have been several reports in the Mankato area. South-central Minnesota sightings ranged from Rasmussen Woods in Mankato to Springfield to Montgomery. The number of reports in southern Minnesota had been dwindling, the DNR told The Free Press in 2020.

The scarce numbers may have been the result of fewer bears venturing more into the region, or an indication people aren't reporting them as much.

Murry's mother helped notify neighbors of the Saturday night sighting. She wants people to be aware of the wild animal's presence and that they should prepare for a potential encounter.

"He's a young bear who is where he doesn't belong," Patricia Murry said.

She guessed the bear weighs about 150 pounds and is hungry. Her concern is that residents should stay alert while walking on local nature trails and while enjoying the Memorial Day weekend tradition of barbecuing in their backyard.

Homeowners can avoid attracting bears by bringing in garbage cans and grills and by not leaving bird feeders full of seed at night, she said.

A DNR webpage about black bears said that, by nature, the wild animals are wary of people and not normally aggressive. They are, however, large, powerful and surprisingly fast-moving. Anyone who encounters a bear should have healthy respect for it, but, at the same time, do not feel that it is an inherent threat.