We reopen for the season on May 25th, 2024!

Black Bear Viewing at the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary

Many years ago, a humble Minnesota logger made a decision that would greatly affect black bears and the attitudes people have towards this often-misunderstood animal. It was then that Vince Shute chose to stop shooting the bears that broke into his cabins. He tried a more peaceful approach and the strategy worked – no more break-ins. Vince claimed, “the bears aren’t mean, just hungry!” This began Vince’s long and celebrated life with black bears in a tiny corner of the north woods near Orr, Minnesota.

Generations of black bears still visit his former homestead, now designated as The Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary. The American Bear Association, a non-profit organization, was formed to manage the sanctuary in order to promote a better understanding of the black bear through education, observation and experience. Vince Shute’s final wish has become a reality – peaceful coexistence between humans and bears. All of the bears are free-roaming and they come and go at will through clover meadows, cool cedar swamps and pine forest.




“Visiting the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary was the highlight of our summer vacation in Northern Minnesota. It is so rare to have the opportunity to get so close to wild bears in their natural habitat.  I could have stayed for days on the protected deck watching as the mamas sent their babies up in the trees and volunteers fed the bears and shared their story with visitors.  Every chance I get, I tell others about this great opportunity.  We hope to come back again soon.Thank you so much for your work providing and protecting these beautiful animals.” -Pam D.  Mankato, MN

“Anyone who wants to see Black Bears up close should visit Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary in Orr, MN.  I loved it so much in August 2015 that I went back in August 2016.  There were many special moments, but one that stands out the most is coming around a corner to see a Mother with her three cubs sitting looking at me,  Another special photo was of a Mother nursing her cub.  I took several thousand photos during my weekend visit! If you want to see Black Bears in the wild, this is THE place to go. I look forward to going back someday very soon” -Katherine D. from Rowley, MA

“I believe that the sanctuary is a very special place for many reasons,the most important one being that the public has a very unique opportunity to observe bears in the wild.  The bears are there because they want to, there is NO fencing to keep them contained.  Seeing momma’s and cubs, observing behaviors from all ages of bears and being in the north woods is definitely a highlight every summer!  I highly recommend visiting!”-Deb F. Welch, MN