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The City of Dubuque and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are encouraging residents to be “bear aware” in response to the black bear that has been seen roaming northeast Dubuque since early May.

The Iowa DNR is working with the City of Dubuque, the Dubuque County Conservation Board, and the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department to monitor the bear’s movements. In the meantime, residents can follow these tips to help discourage the bear from staying in the area:

  • If a bear repeatedly enters your yard, determine what attractants are drawing it there and remove them.
  • Store garbage in a sturdy building and put it out on the day of pick-up, not the night before.
  • Do not leave pet food out. Removing bird feeders is best, but if feeders must be out, they should be at least 10 feet high and 5 feet from the trunk of a tree.
  • Keep barbeques clean and grease free, or place in a shed or the garage. Do not put meat, fish and other pungent scraps in compost piles. Add powder-form agricultural lime to reduce odors and accelerate decomposition.
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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. In Dubuque, the bear has focused on seed, pet food, and garbage.

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Curt Kemmerer, wildlife biologist with the Iowa DNR said:

 “To encourage it to move along, 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.”

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While much of Iowa does not have the habitat necessary to support a black bear population, certain locations do, primarily northeast, eastern and southern parts of the state. While bears are typically nocturnal, they get more active during the June to July breeding season, especially at dawn and dusk.

Kemmerer also said:

The chance to encounter a bear, although small, is a possibility. If someone encounters a bear, they should avoid running away.  “Instead, back away slowly and cautiously while facing it. Make noise so they know you’re there,”

The Iowa DNR will continue to monitor the movements and behavior of the bear in concern to human safety. Residents can help monitor the bear by sending locations of bear sightings to Kemmerer at curt.kemmerer@dnr.iowa.gov.

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