Prepare your best “right to bear arms” jokes – a Minnesota black bear has taken off with a camper’s firearm and remains at large.
According to a state conservation officer, a black bear has stolen a camper’s backpack containing a handgun. The handgun was made far more enticing by the “several delicious-smelling snacks” inside.
The incident occurred on a boat landing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of Minnesota. The camper’s identity is unknown, but we do know the bear is still at large – as it managed to escape into the woods armed with treats and a “handgun.”
Wildlife officials add that the camper attempted to track down the bear and his pack. He was, however, unsuccessful. This is a blessing for said camper. We’re not sure what he planned to do next once up against the bear that took his handgun…
Never come between a bear and his treats, fellow Outsiders.
Conservation Officer Mary Manning, alongside a U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer, would take up the search after the camper. While the bear is long gone, they did manage to find a “partially shredded pack, numerous empty snacks and the undamaged firearm,” the Kansas City Star reports.
As for the bear’s positive identification as an American black bear, it boils down to a simple fact: blacks are the only species of bear found in Minnesota. The state is home to a thriving population, with experts estimating somewhere around 14,000 present in the wild.
American Black Bears are Becoming Incredibly Bold
“Black bears usually try to avoid people, but sometimes come in conflict with humans when they eat crops, destroy apiaries… Or break into garbage cans and birdfeeders,” cites the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources.
While this is the first instance of “bear steals firearm” this wildlife technician and Outsider has ever written – it is far from the first instance of a black bear nabbing a backpack. Camper’s backpacks are the Fig Newtons of the bear world, and snatching them is a common behavior.
In areas where bear & human encounters are high, like my native Appalachia and Smoky Mountains, black bears will take backpacks even if they do not smell food. This is from the association, as the species are highly curious and beyond clever. Conversely, this gets bears into trouble in areas like the Smokies where humans tend to habituate bears to their presence.
It’s an issue on the other side of the mountains in North Carolina, too.
“Though bears are naturally afraid of humans… Bears habituated to human food can begin to associate human scents with the reward of food,” state officials say. “Due to this, bears can become a threat to humans, property, and themselves.”
For plenty of tips on how to avoid a black bear encounter, we’ve got you there, also.