A bear with its head stuck inside a plastic ring is creating a bit of chaos in northern Minnesota. People are concerned about its condition. A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources official says it's not in immediate danger, but efforts continue to capture the bear to free it from its predicament.

Tom Rusch of the DNR tells the Star Tribune, "I can't tell you exactly what it is. It's about an inch thick. It's not a garbage can lid. It's something like from a public waste receptacle that you put drinking cups in."

He says the item is snug around the bear's neck but that the animal appears to be eating normally and not suffering. Several people have reported the animal to the DNR which has set several traps for the three-to-four year old male but he hasn't tripped the traps at this point. The bear has been reported in the Ely area of northern Minnesota.

The fact the bear approached the waste bin and has been seen during daylight hours is a concern. "He lacks the normal fear that bears have. That's always a concern." Rusch points out that the is no law against feeding wildlife. He says that something simple like feeding birds can lead to bears coming up to homes and becoming less fearful of people.

My own family has had numerous encounters with bears while vacationing in Colorado over the years. Family members have even gone so far as to bait bears by setting out food by the dumpster. (We stopped this practice years ago.) We have had vehicles broken into when bears smelled food inside. A bear knocked around an empty cooler that was left on a porch creating a middle-of-the-night racket one time.

On my most recent trip to Colorado, we came across a black bear while on a horseback ride. The animal was spotted from a fair distance away. It sat and watched us for a few moments before scampering away.

People like seeing animals, but feeding them is leading to more encounters. And it's becoming more frequent. Rusch said, "It's an abnormal year because a lot of people are feeding bears." The Department of Natural Resources offers tips on dealing with bears.

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