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Time To Bear-Proof Your Property for Your Sake, Theirs

It is illegal to intentionally feed a bear, as it conditions the bear to look for food among humans.(Skeeze/Pixabay)
It is illegal to intentionally feed a bear, as it conditions the bear to look for food among humans.(Skeeze/Pixabay)
May 3, 2018

LANSING, Mich. – Last year wildlife authorities across the country had to put down more than 150 bears that repeatedly got too close to humans, so as the warm weather returns, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is reminding people to bear-proof their property and minimize the chance of conflict.

Katie Keen, a wildlife communications specialist with the DNR, says the Michigan agency only had to put down a few each year – invariably because the bear had lost its natural fear of humans, usually lured onto a property by a bird feeder or garbage cans.

"And in some cases we can't reverse that and we don't want to move a problem bear to another location in the state,” she states. “And it may end up being euthanized. So, in the end human safety is our number one concern."

Now that spring is here, bears are out of hibernation. Meanwhile, people are starting to return to their summer retreats, so the risk of coming into contact is much greater.

Experts say if you see a bear, do not crouch or turn and run. Instead you should stand up and make yourself seem as large as possible, tell it to go away in a stern voice and back away slowly.

There are more than 12,000 adult black bears in Michigan.

Keen says homeowners who live in areas inhabited by bears should remove all bird feeders and only put garbage cans out just before the pickup time.

"If we ever introduce any type of food reward, that actually takes the fear away, fear bears normally have of humans,” she explains. “Because you're basically training bears to be around us, by having a food resource."

The DNR also advises homeowners to lock any dumpsters, because bears are clever and can open the lid.

The DNR also says people shouldn't let their pets go outside alone after dusk, because dog and bear interactions can be unpredictable.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MI