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MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota wildlife officials say the world's oldest known wild black bear has died of old age at 39 1/2.

Bear No. 56 was first captured and radio-collared in 1981 when Ronald Reagan was early in his first term. The bear was 7 years old at the time and was accompanied by three cubs.

Department of Natural Resources researcher Karen Boyce recently found the bear's decomposed body in a secluded, wooded area in northern Minnesota. She says all indications are that it died a quiet death from natural causes. She calls it "a fitting death for a fine old bear."

Researchers suspect Bear No. 56's longevity probably is best attributed to a combination of living in a remote area with few humans or major roads, wariness of people and luck.

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