Tuesday, January 15, 2008 By Aaron Brown
A formerly hibernating bear and its two cubs were moved today to a bear sanctuary in northern Michigan by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, apparently ending a life-and-death saga.
Solo the bear, which was hibernating under a home in Eagles Nest Township near Ely, had been marked for death by the DNR because it had threatened some people in the area. The DNR said the bear had lost its fear of humans and could become dangerous.
The word of Solo’s demise struck a chord with bear lovers, many of whom protested the death sentences. One Herman-town woman offered $1,000 to the cabin’s owner to let the bear family sleep out the winter. There was even talk of bear lovers buying the cabin so the bear could stay. The bear also had become famous as part of ongoing bear research by controversial Ely bear researcher Lynn Rogers.
In December Gov. Tim Pawlenty even weighed in, commuting the bear’s death sentence and ordering the DNR to move the bear somewhere else.
When DNR officials arrived at the property Monday, the bears were no longer hibernating under the cabin but were found awake nearby.
All three showed evidence of severe eye irritation from pepper spray, DonCarlos said. DNR conservation officers found an empty can of pepper spray on the property, and the area under the cabin where the bears were denned retained a heavy smell of the spray.
Conservation officers are investigating the attack on the bears.