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Bear spotted in Cottage Grove

Cliff Ratzlaff had never before seen a bear in the area -- but now, three times in the past two weeks, the Cottage Grove man has spied a black bear on his father's Lamar Avenue farm.

The latest sighting came shortly before midnight on Oct. 7, captured on the hunting camera Ratzlaff has installed on the farm. Roughly 24 hours earlier the bear was spotted by the same device, and the week before, Ratzlaff says, he saw the bear with his own eyes.

Cottage Grove Police say Ratzlaff's sighting is the only report of bears in Cottage Grove so far this year. But surprisingly it's not all that uncommon an occurrence. Police fielded numerous reports of bear sightings two years ago, says Capt. Pete Koerner, deputy director of public safety.

The black bear originally inhabited the whole of Minnesota, according to the Department of Natural Resources, but is now typically found only in northern woodlands.