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Invisibilia: Should Wild Bears Be Feared Or Befriended?

Wildlife Research Institute biologists Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield use an receiver while perplexing to locate a radio-collared bear in a woods circuitously Ely, Minn. in 2012.

Derek Montgomery for NPR


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Derek Montgomery for NPR

Wildlife Research Institute biologists Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield use an receiver while perplexing to locate a radio-collared bear in a woods circuitously Ely, Minn. in 2012.

Derek Montgomery for NPR

This week a podcast and show Invisibilia examines the inlet of reality, with a Silicon Valley techie who combined apps to randomize his life; a psychologist who trains herself to knowledge a universe like dogs do; and a wildlife biologist who thinks bears aren’t dangerous.

When we live in northern Minnesota, wildlife is customarily no large deal. A hulk longhorn moose accidentally strolled by a area in Duluth a integrate summers ago, past screaming and slack-jawed kids during a circuitously park. Wolves also have ventured into town, spasmodic murdering dogs that strayed too distant from their owners. Deer are as common as flies, and we usually seem to notice them when they burst out in front of my car.

But bears are different. we hadn’t seen one in town, while pushing or even during a zoo. So in 2012, when Minnesota Public Radio contributor Dan Kraker asked if we wanted to join him as he went out with wildlife biologist Lynn Rogers to find a bear, we jumped during a opportunity.

Photographs of Rogers’ prolonged attribute with northern Minnesota bears and other animals accoutre one of a cabinets during his Wildlife Research Institute.

Derek Montgomery for NPR


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Derek Montgomery for NPR

Photographs of Rogers’ prolonged attribute with northern Minnesota bears and other animals accoutre one of a cabinets during his Wildlife Research Institute.

Derek Montgomery for NPR

Dan was going to write a story about Rogers’ work putting webcams in bear dens and radio collars on bears. That work is controversial; he argues that it’s formulating a precious database on a animals’ behavior. Others contend that since he feeds bears and touches them, a bears spin accustomed to humans and poise a risk to people who aren’t accustomed to furious bears coming them. (In 2014, a state Department of Natural Resources rescinded Rogers’ assent to collar bears, citing complaints from internal residents.)

My fad during seeking out a black bear in a furious would seem to be during contingency with my inherited instincts to rush when opposed creatures some-more than twice my stretch that have a ability to spin me into lunch meat. But we felt safer tagging along with a researcher who had knowledge with bears.

Rogers, associate biologist Sue Mansfield, Dan and we all met during Rogers’ Wildlife Research Institute circuitously Ely, Minn. We talked about his work and what he had designed for a day. They dismissed adult their GPS tracking devices, found a close on June, a profound black bear whose radio collar indispensable a new battery, and we gathering off.

Rogers palm feeds June, a 300-plus-pound profound black bear.

Derek Montgomery for NPR


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Derek Montgomery for NPR

Rogers palm feeds June, a 300-plus-pound profound black bear.

Derek Montgomery for NPR

After 45 minutes, we had to get out and travel by a meagre aspen and birch forest, that had been a former logging site. They mislaid a vigilance a series of times, though after about an hour we narrowed in on June’s plcae until we unexpected saw a black pinch relocating about 50 yards away.

“That’s her,” Lynn said.

My fad unexpected waned. we felt a lot some-more discreet than we had been an hour progressing when we were trudging by a woods flicking ticks off a sleeves and swatting mosquitoes divided from a faces. Lynn and Sue kept on relocating toward a bear like zero was unusual, until Jun was station right in front of us. They took out food and started hand-feeding her.

Jun looks during a food being offering by wildlife biologists. In 2013, Jun was shot and killed by a hunter circuitously Ely.

Derek Montgomery for NPR


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Derek Montgomery for NPR

June looks during a food being offering by wildlife biologists. In 2013, Jun was shot and killed by a hunter circuitously Ely.

Derek Montgomery for NPR

I won’t distortion and contend visions of Jun holding a cube out of their hands didn’t cranky my mind. It only seemed so peculiar to confront a bear in a woods and not have bear or tellurian take off regulating divided from any other. But Jun was so ease with Lynn and Sue as they prodded her with instruments to establish heart rate, heat and other information. Then Lynn pronounced we could pet her.

The thought of petting a furious bear in a woods seemed so surreal to me. we reached out and patted a tip of her counterfeit head. Jun carried her eyes and looked during me. In that moment, we wasn’t afraid. Within a few minutes, Lynn and Sue were finished and we were on a approach out of there. This time we were regulating a GPS to find a approach behind to a van.

The stage still feels so peculiar since nothing of it seemed natural. Me not regulating from a site of a furious black bear. The black bear not regulating from me. People petting and feeding a black bear in a woods like it was a dog. But between fear and excitement, oddity won out. Still, it hasn’t altered how we correlate with bears. we keep a distance.

Derek Montgomery is a freelance photographer formed in Duluth, Minn. His work has seemed in such publications as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Minnesota Public Radio.