MOUNTAIN IRON — Do not feed the bears.

That is the message Sgt. John Backman of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department has for Mountain Iron residents.

It seems, however, some people are not heeding that advice.

The bear issue is becoming a bit unbearable; in fact it’s pretty much for the birds.

Speaking of which, feeding birds during the summer is part of the problem, Backman told the Mountain Iron City Council Monday night. Birds have an ample natural food supply this time of year, and bears are raiding feeders across town.

Not to mention, garbage cans.

Backman said he is “concerned” that some residents are “feeding the bears intentionally.”

That’s not a good idea, he said. “They think it’s an act of kindness,” but it becomes a nuisance for citizens who do not want bears roaming their yards.

“Myself or one of my officers might have to destroy” a bear that becomes a threat, he said. None of the bears, however, have been aggressive.

There were more complaints of bears in town during the weekend, he said. In one case, a mother bear, cubs and yearlings were on a homeowner’s property.

Backman said, based on his own experience with bear baiting, it’s likely someone is deliberately feeding them in the area.

Backman said the last time he remembers this many bear complaints in the city was in 1995. A wildlife employee told him in June that Mountain Iron is “only surpassed by Ely” in the number of bear reports this summer.

Backman added that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources “won’t get involved” if people are providing food sources for bears.

Residents can call 911 if they experience a bear issue, he said, noting that people are “less likely to be bit by a bear than a loose dog.”

In other business:

• Mayor Gary Skalko said he met with leaders of a major development project who plan to bring an apartment complex, new hotel, meeting center and pub to the Rock Ridge area. The project was initially set to begin this summer. “It’s a go on construction,” however, work will be delayed until next spring, Skalko said.

Construction will launch with the building of a 70-unit market rate apartment complex just west of Lake Country Power. “By late fall, we will know more,” Skalko said of the development.

• Councilor Steve Skogman requested looking into hiring a blight officer next summer. The matter will be reviewed by the Personnel Committee and the Public Safety & Health Board.

• City Administrator Craig Wainio said he met with Minnesota Department of Transportation officials regarding a state roadway project slated for next summer at the intersections of Highway 169 by Super One South and Walgreens. Plans are also in place to repair Mountain Iron Drive in that area, which will require “a lot of coordination next summer.”

• The council approved pay requests in the amounts of $13,537 and $23,118 to Viet Co., of Duluth, for the Nichols Wastewater Pond Decommissioning project.


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