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Minnesota Black Bears

In July of 2004 I visited the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary in northern Minnesota for a photography workshop.  The sanctuary was created to manage a "feeding" situation that Vince Shute himself had established years ago.  The bears, although free to come and go as they please, are fed by workers and volunteers.  Food is laid out throughout the meadow and the bears walk in and out, helping themselves.  Although the bears are still wild, they are food conditioned and habituated when it comes to people.  We were on the ground with the bears, photographing them, and sometimes the bears would walk right beside you!  It was quite exciting, but we could never forget that they were wild and could choose to "play" with us at any moment.  The bears all have names for identification and tracking purposes.  Some of the bears are quite old; Old Smokey being 29.  The bears usually return each year, but some of them skip a year.  For more information about the sanctuary, directions or photography workshop information, please contact the American Bear Association.

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