Fast forward a decade and I'm in Orr, Minnesota for a week, when I heard about the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary. Here is the summary of this Sanctuary: "Many years ago, a humble Minnesota logger made a decision that would greatly affect black bears and the attitudes people have towards this often-misunderstood animal. It was then that Vince Shute chose to stop shooting the bears that broke into his cabins. He tried a more peaceful approach and the strategy worked – no more break-ins. Vince claimed, “the bears aren’t mean, just hungry!” Thus, began Vince’s long and celebrated life with black bears in a tiny corner of the north woods near Orr, Minnesota.
Generations of black bears still visit his former homestead, now designated as The Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary. The American Bear Association, a non-profit organization, was formed to manage the sanctuary in order to promote a better understanding of the black bear through education, observation and experience. Vince Shute’s final wish has become a reality – peaceful coexistence between humans and bears. All of the bears are free-roaming; they come and go at will through clover meadows, cool cedar swamps and pine forest."
So, yesterday evening, I spent three hours at the Sanctuary with about fifty bears. While talking to one of the staff, I found out, quite by accident, that this was the renowned bear sanctuary co-founded by Bill Lea. He was due to be there last night and was delayed and we had to leave this morning, so i didn't get a chance to thank him for not only inspiring my life long love for bears, but also providing this sanctuary, not only for visitors, but also for researchers.
It's a small, small world. So, if you love bears and want to see them, come to Orr, MN and spent some time on a platform, just like in Katmai, Alaska and see them.
Be warned: Lots of bear pictures ahead.