LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Spring brings the awakening of black bears from their winter slumber, signaling the time for caution in bear country. After months of hibernation, these majestic creatures emerge in search of sustenance to fuel their hungry bodies. As they venture forth, it’s crucial for Michigan residents to take preemptive measures to minimize potential conflicts between bears and humans – or bears and pets or livestock.

Don’t offer an all-you-can-eat buffet to the bears.

Feasting on natural fare such as water and green vegetation is ideal for bears but raiding bird feeders, rummaging through garbage cans, raiding beehives, or snatching outdoor pet food presents an irresistible temptation akin to hitting the jackpot for a ravenous bear.

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While it’s beneficial for bears to bulk up after their hibernation, allowing them easy access to human- provided food sources near residential areas can lead to dire consequences for both parties involved.

Bears who get accustomed to scavenging from human habitats can become frequent visitors, gradually losing their fear of humans. This can result in property damage, risky encounters with humans, and perilous situations for livestock and pets. Such encounters rarely conclude favorably for the bear or the human community.

Because Spring heralds a critical period for fostering harmonious coexistence with wildlife, proactive measures are necessary to ensure a conflict-free year. Simple actions taken now can save time, money, and stress, while promoting the safe foraging of wildlife – from a distance.

Michigan DNR Tips for (hopefully) a bear-free yard:

  • Take Down Bird Feeders: It’s time to bid farewell to bird feeders or opt for alternatives like bird baths, nest boxes, or native flowers.
  • Secure Outdoor Pet Foods: Bring in outdoor pet foods and maintain cleanliness in outdoor areas such as grills and patio furniture.
  • Garbage Can Protocol: Safeguard garbage cans indoors overnight, only placing them at the curb on the morning of pickup to deter bear enticement.
  • Protect Beehives: Shield beehives and small apiaries with electric fencing to safeguard them from bear intrusions.

Black bears play indispensable roles in our ecosystem, serving as seed dispersers and regulators of insect and small mammal populations. However, as we embrace the arrival of spring and spend more time outdoors, it’s crucial to recognize that human actions profoundly influence bear behavior.

Rather than waiting for a bear encounter in order to take action, it’s imperative to eliminate potential food sources, ensuring Michigan’s black bears remain at a respectful distance.

For further insights on adopting Bear SMART practices this spring, visit michigan.gov/Wildlife or reach out to the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.