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Bear No. 56 peers from its den in the Chippewa National Forest near Marcell, Minn. The bear died of old age in Itasca County at the age of 39 1/2, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Bob King/Duluth News Tribune

World's oldest known wild bear dies at nearly 40 in Itasca County

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The world’s oldest-known wild bear has died of old age in northern Minnesota at the age of 39½, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The bear was known to DNR researchers as Bear No. 56. A female American black bear, she was first captured and radio-collared in July 1981 by DNR scientists during the first summer of a long-term research project on bear population ecology.

The bear was 7 years old at the time and was accompanied by three female cubs.

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