One of the top fears of newcomers to the BWCA is bears. Specifically, peoples’ imagination can take a wild ride when visualizing bear encounters.

However, the common fear of black bears is largely due to the media’s mischaracterization of our largely harmless black bears. If you’re one of those scared of a Boundary Waters trip because of these creatures, a trip to the North American Bear Center near Ely may be all you need to unshackle yourself from unwarranted concern.

For example, the Bear Center studies bears by attaching radio collars around their necks, and then monitoring them. When I visited this week, I learned from a researcher that the wild black bears are not sedated when attaching radio collars. Instead, one person may feed some snacks to the bear while the other walks up and straps the collar on a wide-awake, wild black bear. And the bear lets them do it!

You will see lots of interesting and surprising research video throughout this educational and interesting destination.

Above is Ted, the biggest black bear in the viewing area at the Bear Center.