I had no idea that there are actually brown bears in Minnesota. It's very rare, but you can actually encounter one. But, does that mean it's a deadly grizzly bear?

We're pretty used to seeing black bears in Minnesota. If you live out in the country, odds are you have had one in your garbage or licking the grease of your grill. Most people know that black bears are probably more afraid of us than we are of them.

They will typically run off if you make noise or make your presence known. Brown bears also known as grizzly bears are more aggressive and dangerous. Fortunately, we don't have to deal with any of those in Minnesota.

But, you may think you actually are encountering a brown bear if you see them in the Minnesota wilderness. That's because in rare cases, black bears can have a different color coat.

Moosehorn NWR
Moosehorn NWR

93% Of Black Bears are actually black

Most of the bears in Minnesota have black fur. Most of us will only see this typical-looking bear in the state.

5% of back bears are chocolate-colored.

The Minnesota DNR says that about 5% of black bears actually have more of a brownish chocolate color.

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1-2% are cinnamon-colored.

Some bears even have a lighter coat, looking like cinnamon in color. The further you go in the Northwest area of the state, the more likely you are to see these different colored bears.

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Wait, is that a polar bear?

Yes, it may feel like the artic around here for many months, but we don't have polar bears. But, very rarely there actually are albino black bears. That would be something to see as it is extremely rare but it has been witnessed.

What do you do if you encounter a bear? How do you stay safe?

  • stay together when hiking as a group
  • don't corner a bear
  • walk backwards slowly, don't run
  • if the bear approaches, stand your ground yelling "Hey bear!" Make yourself appear as big as possible.
  • If attacked by a black bear in Minnesota, don't play dead. Fight back aggressively.
  • carry bear mace

Also, don't leave food scraps out, lock up your food, and follow these tips from the Minnesota DNR.

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Gallery Credit: Dom DiFurio & Jacob Osborn

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