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Cotton Lake woman captures photo of hungry visitor

This sleepy 'ol bear was looking for some grub out at Cotton Lake this week after a long winter of hibernation. (Photo courtesy of Denise Warweg)1 / 2
On the north side of Cotton Lake only a couple of miles from Tamarac Wildlife Refuge, this black bear was seen trying to get at some bird feeders in the back yard of Denise and Mike Warweg's house. (Photo by Denise Warweg)2 / 2

Denise Warweg was cooking up some bacon in her kitchen on the north side of Cotton Lake Monday night, despite her neighbor's warning.

"They said, 'Don't be cookin' bacon if there's a bear around,''' she said.

Warweg says she'd been hearing about a large black bear that had been "terrorizing" bird feeders in the neighborhood, but the thing was, she was hoping he'd come around.

"I'd been wanting to take a picture of him for a long time," she said, adding she assumed he was a "he" based on the bear's size and the fact that there were no cubs with it.

The day before, Warweg had asked her husband, Mike, to take her out on a Sunday drive to see if they could catch a glimpse of the buzzed-about bear she's heard so much about. But nothing.

It was the next day — Monday, as that bacon was sizzling, that Mike came running in the house.

"And he's like, 'There's the bear!', and so I grabbed my camera," said Warweg, adding that the big boy was only about 20 feet from their front door, and true to his reputation, he was trying to get to the birdfeeders.

The Warwegs' hunting dog inside the house was going "nuts".

"He didn't come all the way up (into the yard) because I think he heard the dog," said Warweg, who says it looked like the bear was going to climb one of the trees...until he didn't.

"He just hugged it for a while," she said, adding that at one point, the bear even looked at her a couple times.

"That was cool," said Warweg, who took advantage of the time with her model, snapping a ton of photos before the bear tired of the situation and sauntered away. "I'm sure he was just hungry," she added, stating she was never scared. Warweg estimates the bear to have been around 300 pounds, which is a fairly good size for a bear just coming out of hibernation.

"His paws were enormous," she said.

Warweg says she doesn't see a lot of bears around her house, but she isn't surprised either, as she lives only a couple of miles from Tamarac Wildlife Refuge. Although she'd heard of this big fella before, she has never heard of him causing any harm to anybody or anything besides some bird feeders.

"They usually demolish them, but I feel really lucky; he didn't do any damage here."

Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes and Perham, both in Minnesota.

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