For rural residents worried about visits from black bears this spring and summer, a wildlife expert has some advice: Take down your bird feeders, at least for now.
Katie Keen of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says bears are particularly attracted to bird seed and suet because they have higher fat content than natural food sources such as roots of early spring plants and insect larvae.
Once a bear finds a bird feeder, it will keep coming back until the seed is gone or the feeder is removed.
Keen says bears that get used to eating around homes, yards and neighborhoods will lose their natural fear of humans, making conflicts more likely.
Residents in areas where bear sightings are common are also advised to keep trash cans secure.
She says it's dangerous to intentionally feed or try to tame a bear.
Michigan is home to approximately 12,000 black bears throughout the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula.