Eagan police are treating a potential black bear sighting near Meadowland Park as "unconfirmed", Eagan Police Chief Jim McDonald said on Thursday.
A husband and wife walking along Highline Trail near the park claim they saw a fully-grown black bear and called police to report the sighting just after midnight on Tuesday morning, according to Eagan police reports. The woman told police she and her husband made noise and took off running after coming within 50 feet of the animal, which was allegedly spotted in the backyard of a home on Fox Ridge Court.
Although confirmed bear sightings do occasionally occur in Eagan and other Dakota County suburbs, McDonald said his department has not been able to confirm the sighting. Some scat found on the trail was analyzed by Eagan's animal control officer, who denied that it came from a bear, McDonald said.
When the department does receive a confirmed bear sighting, police typically distribute warning flyers in the neighborhood and attempt to locate the bear, McDonald said. Because this sighting is unconfirmed, the department isn't planning to take further action, he added.
"If we can confirm the sighting, we take a much broader approach," McDonald said.
The last confirmed sighting in Eagan was at Patrick Eagan Park. But last year, Apple Valley police also dealt with a series of confirmed sightings between Galaxie Avenue and Pilot Knob Road, south of 140th Street and north of 145th Street, according to this Sun Thisweek news article.
Large park systems in the area, like Fort Snelling State Park and Lebanon Hills Regional Park provide an environment conducive for black bears, McDonald said.
Black bears range in weight from 150 to 500 pounds, have an exceptional sense of smell and can be up to six feet in length, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. If you spot a black bear, the DNR recommends making loud noises to alert the animal and scare it away.