ST. PAUL – Solo the one-eared bear received a Christmas present of life.
“We are going to give the black bear a reprieve, a pardon,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced on his weekly Friday radio show. “It is a good pre-Christmas, pre-holiday announcement.”
State Department of Natural Resources officials had considered putting Solo down because she had become too friendly with people, which could be dangerous. But now state officials say she will live out her life in a wildlife sanctuary, but no decision about where to send the bear family will be made until next week.
Solo is a 4-year-old, one-eared bear that has become well known to residents of Eagles Nest Township near Tower, Minn. That is where she and her cubs are hibernating under a private cabin.
Pawlenty, saying all he knew about the case was what he read in newspapers, came down on the bear’s side Friday.
“My feeling is this bear should not be euthanized,” Pawlenty declared.
DNR officials said Friday afternoon that the bear family will be sent to a captive facility where the three can live without “uncontrolled interactions with people.”
“This solution satisfies our original and primary concern about public safety,” said Michael DonCarlos, DNR wildlife research and policy manager. “The typical behavior of a black bear, like any wild animal, is to avoid humans. This bear is habituated to humans and has lost its fear of people, which makes it impossible to predict its behavior.”
DNR officials said they are looking into several locations for the bears. Solo and other bears in the area eat from bird feeders that are placed on trees and residents’ decks. Solo has allowed people too closely to her. That created fears she could attack if people get too close.
In June, 28 township residents signed a petition calling Solo a nuisance.