A black bear wandered into a volleyball court by Lake Minnetonka. It didn't end well (for the bear)

"I just knew it wasn't going to be a good day for the bear.”

Jared Goyette
July 08, 2018 - 11:59 pm

Photo courtesy of Jill Tokarczyk

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Jill Tokarczyk grew up in Northern Minnesota, so she’s used to seeing black bears in the wild.

But, a bear climbing the guardrail on a busy road in the middle of a Saturday afternoon near a densely populated area? That’s not the kind of thing you see every day.

“I was shocked. I was absolutely shocked. I actually threw the phone to my daughter and said ‘Take a picture,’” she told WCCO Radio host Jearlyn Steele.

Tokarczyk, of Minnetrista, pulled off to the side of the road, and her daughter took the photo you see above this article. Tokarczyk posted it to Facebook, then it ended up on Twitter before being posted on news sites across the state.

As her initial surprise faded, Tokarczyk began to worry — about the beer.

“I knew it was going to be a problem for the bear, I just knew it wasn't going to be a good day for the bear,” she said.

It was not a good day for the bear. The animal, which authorities say was about 250 pounds, made its way from the road to Lord Fletcher’s Old Lake Lodge, a multi-venue, resort-style restaurant by Lake Minnetonka. Mike Dubs, a radio DJ with our sister station, Buz’n 102.9, happened to be eating there at the time.

Dubs says that at first, customers heard sirens and thought the police might be searching for someone, but then word got around that it was a bear. No one panicked.

“I  thought it was really cool to see a black bear in the wild, it ran right by the volleyball nets before crossing the street to the additional parking lot.

By then, the bear’s fate was sealed.

“After it ran there maybe two minutes went by and that’s where we heard two gunshots, and everyone kind of knew what happened,” Dubs said.

According to the Star Tribune, authorities didn’t have tranquilizers available, so they decided to shoot the bear because it was deemed a public safety threat. The Department of Natural Resources, Orono police, and The Hennepin County Sheriff’s office responded to the scene.

The DNR says that there are about 12,000-15,000 black bears in Minnesota, mostly in the northern part of the state. A DNR official recently told the Star Tribune that bears seen further south could either be juveniles pushed out of northern Minnesota due to competition from a growing population, or, more likely, have wandered into Minnesota from Wisconsin, which has its own growing bear population.