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DNR Monitoring Black Bear Activity in Dubuque County

The DNR is working with the City of Dubuque, the Dubuque County Conservation Board and the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department to monitor the movements of the black bear that has been seen in northeast Dubuque since early May.

Bears are omnivores and their diet changes with the seasons. In the spring, bears emerge from their winter dens hungry and willing to take advantage of whatever food is available. The DNR says in Dubuque, the bear has zeroed in on seed, pet food and garbage.

To encourage it to move along, DNR Wildlife Biologist Curt Kemmerer says people in the area need to remove the easy meals – put away bird seed, put away barbeque drip pans, and keep pet food and garbage in places bears can’t access. Once the food is gone, the bear will move on to natural food sources out of town as the green up occurs.

Bears have become more frequent visitors to Iowa. Since 2002, there have been 46 confirmed black bears in Iowa, and two to five per year since 2014. Based on physical characteristics, wildlife experts believe this is the same bear that was in Dubuque last spring.

Kemmerer says they want to give this bear a chance to move along by removing the food incentives for it to stay. He says the situation remains fluid and their approach depends upon the behavior of the bear – that could change if human safety becomes an issue.

He says if someone encounters a bear, they should avoid running away. Instead, back away slowly and cautiously while facing it. And make noise so they know you’re there.

In addition to securing pet food, seeds and trash, Dubuque County residents can help monitor the bear by sending locations of bear sightings to the DNR at curt.kemmerer@dnr.iowa.gov.

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