I’ve never worried too much about bears where we live in Grand Ledge. We see just about everything but bears. Now we did a vacation in Black Mountain North Carolina where my nephews live about 3 years ago, Rented a big house on top of a mountain and it was so peaceful. However we were warned about black bears while hiking trails, or even in the area where we were staying, as it was quite desolate and the closest neighbor was about a mile away. Fortunately we did not have any encounters even though we did buy a bear whistle and some bear repellent, just in case.

Now there are places in our wonderful state of Michigan where you can find bears. Most people encountering a bear, like me, want to run away. However the Michigan DNR says that’s not a good idea. They say you should remain calm and they have a set of rules that can make your encounter much safer.

Mlive reports: DNR Rules

S - Stand your ground
M - Make loud noises and back away slowly
A - Always provide a clear, unobstructed escape route for the bear
R - Rarely do bears attack, if they do fight back
T - Treat bears with respect and observe them from a distance

As the weather gets better and it starts warming up the bears are active and looking for food in their ranges in the northern part of Michigan. The good news for us is most wild animals are scared of humans when they see us. The DNR says removing food sources that may be on your property or campsite can reduce the risk of an encounter. Bears usually come out of hibernation in Northern Michigan in April or May.

Mynorth.com reports

Did you know? Adult female black bears weigh approximately 90 to 300 pounds, and adult males weigh about 130 to 500 pounds. There are about 9,700 bears in the Upper Peninsula and more than 15,000 statewide. The northern Lower Peninsula has seen an almost 50 percent increase in the black bear population since 2000, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR deals with reports every year of bears seeking food from bird feeders, garbage cans, even grills and camp sites. Anywhere they may smell food they will go. Keep in mind leaving food for the bears is not a good thing. Once a bear discovers a food source, you can count on them returning. Seeing a bear may be interesting for you, but frightening for your neighbor.

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Cody Norton with the Michigan DNR said “bears that learn to rely on human food sources are more likely to encounter people, and they may lose their natural fear of humans.” So don't feed the bears, and if you have a bear encounter, be sure and remember the SMART rules. It could save your life.

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