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Minnesota: Bear essentials

Courtesy Explore Minnesota Tourism

Minnesota is known as the Gopher State, but groups can learn about other animals as they tour the Midwestern state.

“There are endless amounts of things to do at the International Wolf Center near Ely,” said Mary Ann Steen with Explore Minnesota. “They have a huge educational system having to do with timber wolves here in Minnesota.

“In the evenings, people can go out and holler with the wolves. That is a great experience.”
The center’s mission is to teach about wolves and their relation to wild lands and humans.

Realistic, life-sized bronze statues of wolves greet visitors outside the entrance of the modern wood center, where exhibits deal with subjects such as how wolves grow, hunt and live in packs.

The award-winning exhibit that explores the relationship of wolves and humans was designed by the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Visitors can observe through windows a live ambassador pack of wolves in an outdoor area.

The bear facts
Located near the wolf center, the four-year-old North American Bear Center tries to dispel misconceptions and myths about bears with balanced and factual information.

The center’s natural-wood interior features mounts of black and brown/grizzly bears in natural poses, more than 30 televisions playing high-definition video footage of bears going about their daily activities in the wild and informative exhibits about bears. A new exhibit focuses on bear signs in several categories — tracks, trails, beds, marking and scat analysis.

The bear center is also home to three captive black bears living in a forested two-acre enclosure with a pond and waterfalls that can be viewed through a wall of windows.

Where buffalo roam
Although John and Jeanne Bowron, owners of Prairie Heights Bison on the prairie grassland of southwestern Minnesota near Luverne, educate people about bison, they also raise the animals for meat and breeding.

“They will take people out in wagons to feed the buffalo,” said Steen. “They have compressed pellets of food for the buffalo. I like to toss it; I don’t like their long, pointed tongues. They know when they see the cart coming that it’s chow time.

“The guides are the owners of the farm. They give a wonderful explanation of the life of bison, their history and where they are at now and their future.”

Groups can eat at the farm and purchase a full line of buffalo meat in its retail room, including steaks, roasts, ground burger, jerky and assorted sausages.

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Bear essentials
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