sergeant. Ernster describes Black Bear’s Sunday night tour through The Crescent – WIZM 92.3FM 1410AM

If there was anyone at the La Crescent Police Department who wanted to get the call that a black bear was walking around town, it would be Sergeant Michael Ernster.

Of course, he wasn’t the one who got that call, because a black bear crossed La Crescent late Sunday night.

“Yeah, I’ll be honest, I’m a little jealous,” Ernster, who has worked for La Crescent Police for 20 years, told La Crosse Talk PM on Monday. “I’ve never seen a bear in town before and those are the calls I love, but it’s just one of those things.”

Instead, Officer Cody Bellock “guided” the bear out of town, as La Crescent police said.

“He just slowly followed the bear as he heavily traversed,” Ernster said. “He actually stopped and nibbled on some bird feeders.”

The video shared by the police department appears to be the South Town High School Bear, though Ernster thought it may have started downtown — perhaps for some Corky’s Pizza.

“Well, to get to this place (near the school) you had to pretty much walk through the city center unless it crosses and goes down the river and cuts,” Ernster said. “It was near the high school and all that – the south end of town – but it was definitely residential. From where it was seen to where it came out, it probably crossed 30 meters, I would say.

From what Ernster described, the bear’s visit to The Crescent went something like this: “I went to high school, I crossed the street in high school, I crossed South 14th, on Willow, then back down to the swamp area.”

A Facebook commenter said: “Bear returned to pasture through Marty Zadow’s barbed wire fence around 11.30pm – across yard at approx 1414 Willow St. Headed to Skunk Hollow, where it disappeared in the canton for the night.”

And while Ernster would have liked to take the call — and wouldn’t have brought his dog named ‘Damnit’ with it — he appreciated how well Bellock did as the bear’s chaperone.

“You can see from the video, I think the bear appeared to be about 15 feet from his patrol car,” Ernster said. “So I think he was having a bit of fun with it too, and the bear didn’t seem to be too active on anything.

“I think he just followed behind, gently escorted him in the right direction and followed him where he needed to be to make sure there were no issues.”

Ernster said he hadn’t heard of a bear in town in his 20 years with La Crescent Police, but the department said it was happening.

“While it’s rare to see black bears in our area, they do wander around occasionally,” La Crescent police said. “The best way to avoid problems with bears is to not attract them in the first place. If you see a bear, don’t go near it.

Police also released recommendations from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Tyler Ramaker saying “move attractants such as garbage cans, bird feeders, grills and pet food to the inside your garage where a bear would not have access. If the bear cannot access food attractants, it is more likely to continue moving through the area without incident.

The DNR added that “bears are wary of people and are not normally aggressive. They are, however, large, powerful and surprisingly fast animals. Anyone who encounters a bear should have a healthy respect for it, but at the same time not feel that it is an inherent threat.

Police added to report any bear sightings in the area to La Crescent PD (507-895-4414) or the Houston County Sheriff’s Office (507-725-3379).

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