‘It’s actually becoming more common’ -- How to deal with black bears in Mid-Michigan

What Michiganders need to know about black bears
Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 6:39 PM EDT
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ST JOHNS, Mich. (WILX) - Bears are a common sight up north, but they’re rare enough in Mid-Michigan that it gets a lot of attention when one is spotted here. Rachel Leightner from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said it’s becoming more common.

“It’s actually becoming more common and we’re seeing black bears in the Mid-Michigan area just about every year,” Leightner said.

Background: ‘Natural fear of humans’ -- Black bear sighted in Clinton County

That’s usually around the spring-summer months. Just last year the Michigan Department of Natural Resources got similar reports of a black bear like this one in the same area but it’s usually not a cause for panic.

“Black bears are not aggressive and they do have a strong natural fear of humans,” Leightner said. “The reports we’ve received so far are of the bear fleeing an area when it becomes aware that there’s a human.”

But the DNR says you still shouldn’t approach them or do anything that makes a bear lose its fear.

Leightner said, “The bear begins to associate food near people’s homes so a lot of times if a bear continuously eats from a bird feeder, or if its finding food near your home, it can then lose its fear of humans and continue to seek out those human provided food sources.”

Removing items that could make black bears think they’ve found a new home can save you from coming outside to a surprise.

If you want to discourage a bear from visiting your yard removed food sources such pet foods stored outside and especially bird feeders, because of the high number of calories found in bird food is a bear favorite.

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