“the best place to see wild black bears in their natural habitat”
Thousands of people visit the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary every year, to view and learn about black bears, their behavior, habitat needs and life cycles. Visitors also get the opportunity to view a special group of wild bears that come to this location every summer, from an elevated platform. Nestled in the North Woods of Minnesota, the Sanctuary is located approximately two hours northwest of Duluth. The nearest town is Orr (www.orrmn.com), which is about thirty minutes away. Encompassing some 360 acres, the Sanctuary consists of a combination of habitats: aspen forests, cedar swamps, marshes, beaver ponds, a primary stream, open meadows and numerous other resources. In addition to being a seasonal home to a more than 50 bears, this habitat is also used by an abundance of other wildlife including whitetail deer, bald eagles, beavers, mink, pine martens, fishers, timber wolves, red squirrels, bobcats, blue jays, owls, ducks, songbirds, ravens, and a variety of other species. While black bears are the primary focus, the various habitats of the Sanctuary are managed in a manner beneficial to the entire ecosystem. The permanent establishment of the refuge has preserved a unique opportunity to view and to photograph the intimate world of the normally reclusive black bear. The Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary also provides a most extraordinary setting for a variety of non-obtrusive scientific studies and educational programs relating to the diverse natural resources found within its boundaries.
All around you, in all directions, are black bears walking around, eating, climbing trees, and in general doing all the things a bear should be doing.
These are not captive bears - they are wild. They come and go as they please. You have the chance to see some fantastic interactions here.
If you want to photograph black bears, this is THE location in the nation. VSWS is where the professional wildlife photographers come when they need black bears, and once you are on site, you'll see why.
Other critters are here too. The ravens were very active, along with blue jays, grosbeaks, squirrels, chipmunks, and some other birds I couldn't identify. No wolves, but apparently they'll show up from time to time as well.
The staff is friendly, very knowledgeable, and with very few exceptions, all volunteer. They receive zero government funding which means they survive completely on donations, and they're doing an amazing job with what little they have.
Orr, MN is about an hour away from Ely, MN which houses the International Wolf Center AND the North American Bear Center. If you're a lover of wildlife make sure to visit all three. If you can only visit one, visit THIS one.
Apparently, the best time to visit is mid-August, where there can be over 80 bears in the area. That's a lot of bear.
The only thing I didn't like were some of the children, whose parents let them run around yelling. Please don't be one of those parents.
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Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary
- Sun, Tue - Sat: 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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