Wadena - The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has confirmed tracks and scat left near Clayton County beehives came from a black bear.
A DNR wildlife depredation biologist responded to a report from a beekeeper south of Wadena, near the Clayton-Fayette county line, who had found his beehives torn up. The DNR found bear scat within 25 feet of the hives. Another nearby landowner reported tracks, which were also confirmed by the DNR. That same landowner reported that he had seen a bear, which he estimated to be a female around 200 pounds, as well as two cubs. The DNR is continuing to investigate and more work is being done to confirm the size or number of bears.
The DNR encourages people to leave the bears alone and to not feed them.
"Wild bears generally avoid people, keeping to themselves and moving along," said Vince Evelsizer, DNR furbearer and wetland biologist. "That said, we do want people to know there is one around, and we encourage them to give the bear its space don't harass or follow the bear, especially if do we have a female bear with cubs."
If there are cubs, they would be the first cubs documented in Iowa in more than 140 years. Although once native to Iowa, black bears have not had wild populations in the state since the 1800s.
If a bear is encountered, people are advised to:
Remain calm. Do not run. Stand still and talk to the bear in a calm voice
Do not try to get closer to the bear
If the bear does not get closer to you, slowly back away, talking to the bear in a quiet, monotone voice. Do not scream, turn your back on the bear, run, kneel down or make direct eye contact
Watch the bear and wait for it to leave
If the bear does not leave or approaches you, yell and wave your arms to make yourself look bigger. Throw objects, blow a whistle or an air horn. The idea is to persuade the bear to leave
If you are with others, stay together and act as a group. Make sure the bear has a clear escape route
If the bear keeps advancing, and is getting close, stand your ground. Use bear pepper spray or anything else you can find or use to threaten or distract the bear
Do not run or climb a tree