Walking with Bears
Here's the scoop on the bears. We were camped on the shores of Kabetogama Lake a short distance from Ken and Debbie Mandt and our purpose for being their was to visit with them. While out to dinner on the first night we were there Ken asked if we would like to visit a bear "sanctuary" near Orr Minnesota.
The American Bear Wildlife Sanctuary was the brain child of Mr. Vince Shute who operated a logging operation near Orr Minnesota. He and his employee's were having so much trouble with bears breaking in to cabins, destroying food stuff, breaking windows, destroying equipment that they began shooting and killing any bear that they saw in hopes of reducing the numbers and thus solving their problems with the bears. After killing hundreds the problem was not getting any better so a new approach was tried. They began feeding the bears on the back side of their logging property in hopes that the bears would hang out there and not interfere with their day to day operations. It worked. The bear were content and did no further damage.
Years later when his logging operation was discontinued Vince continued to feed the bears and he began to bond with them rather than despise them. After his death the American Bear Association decided to continue the feeding and establish a sanctuary where the public could come and observe the bear close up. Above ground walkways were built some 10 to 12 feet in the air and they ambled throughout the grounds. The bears are fed twice daily, once in the morning and again in the evening. There are no fences. The bears are free to come and go and that they do.
The bear activity on our visit was minimal but there was enough to hold our interest for a couple of hours. We had a great time and got some great pictures. Don't you agree?