World's oldest wild black bear dies of old age

Share story

Bear #56
The Department of Natural Resources announced Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 that Bear No. 56 had passed away at age 39.5. She was found in a secluded spot somewhere in northern Minnesota and apparently died of natural causes.
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota wildlife officials say the world's oldest known wild black bear has died of old age at 39 1/2.

Bear No. 56 was first captured and radio-collared in 1981 when Ronald Reagan was early in his first term. The bear was 7 years old at the time and was accompanied by three cubs.

Department of Natural Resources researcher Karen Boyce recently found the bear's decomposed body in a secluded, wooded area in northern Minnesota. She says all indications are that it died a quiet death from natural causes. She calls it "a fitting death for a fine old bear."

Researchers suspect Bear No. 56's longevity probably is best attributed to a combination of living in a remote area with few humans or major roads, wariness of people and luck.

Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.