With the onset of spring, flowers are blooming, grass is growing, and bears are coming out of hibernation.
And black bears, the only type of bear that lives in the state, are already making headlines.
“Scruffy,” a 300-pound black bear who roamed around southwest Michigan and northwest Indiana for more than a year, was captured and euthanized on April 9 after attempting to enter occupied homes. Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources deemed the bear’s actions as a “threat to human health.”
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is offering a warning about bears in the state.
WLUC-TV reports the DNR has responded to dozens nuisance bear complaints so far this year as bears are on the move. The agency says that adult bears have been moving in mating season while younger bears are looking to find their own territory.
Two Midland men have been charged with trying to deal in black bear organs.
The men allegedly approached hunters offering to buy black bears and parts of bears.
It’s against the law to buy and sell certain wildlife organs. There’s concern that demand for animal organs for use in traditional medicines may lead to poachers killing bears and other animals out of their normal hunting seasons.
Jason Haines supervises special investigations within the Department of Natural Resources. He says this is not a crime they see a lot.
“I have 31 bears here right now. They’re my babies,” Oswald said.
You can find YouTube videos of Oswald bottle feeding his “babies,” usually given to him after their mother bears are killed in logging or cars accidents.
He says he’s gotten about a dozen bears from state agencies like the Department of Natural Resources in Michigan; from Ohio, Minnesota, New York and South Dakota. Some come from breeders who can’t sell the bears, Oswald said.
“If I don’t have them they’re going to be euthanized,” Oswald explained.
The bill approved by a 56-52 vote Thursday would free up facilities to allow the handling of bear cubs up to 9 months old or weighing no more than 90 pounds...
The legislature passed a similar bill last session, but it was vetoed Snyder. It had been tied to another bill Snyder had concerns about, but he encouraged the Legislature to re-introduce this bill on its own this session.
A bill to let people hold, pet, and take pictures with bear cubs has passed the state Senate. The measure would allow an Upper Peninsula bear ranch to continue to offer the experience. It would let the public handle bears up to 36 weeks old or less than 90 pounds.
Senator Rebekah Warren voted against the bill.
She says lawmakers should put residents’ safety ahead of the financial benefit of a single business.
Some people are saying Michigan should have a part-time instead of a full-time legislature. I’ve always been against this. But from time to time, I can sympathize with the notion that maybe our lawmakers should only work part time so they can buckle down to business and get the important things done.
Yesterday provided a perfect example. Our roads are falling apart. Every day we put off fixing them means it will cost that much more in the long run. Every day we put off fixing them is another day that Michigan becomes less competitive.
Bills to ease restrictions on owning and breeding large carnivores in Michigan are likely to come up again in 2013.
Governor Rick Snyder recently vetoed the legislation because of language he said would compromise public safety.
Republican state Senator Joe Hune said the measure has attracted unfair criticism. He said many opponents cite an incident in Ohio a year ago, when a man deliberately freed a number of dangerous exotic animals he owned.
There's been a spate of black bear sightings in West Michigan over the past few days with at least one birdfeeder as a casualty.
Residents in Greenville, about 25 miles northeast of Grand Rapids, saw a bear wandering around a residential neighborhood and sightings have also been reported in nearby Lowell and Vergennes Township this week.
Wildlife authorities with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources don't know if it's the same bear being spotted, or more than one.
Bear sightings in general in many parts of the Lower Peninsula have become more common over the past few years.
[Bump] said a lot of the time, the bears are young males that get pushed out during the breeding season. They’ll head down looking for new territory.
“It’s not that we’re completely full up in the north – it can’t take one more bear – it’s just that we’re getting more taking the chance and moving south.”
He said bears like to travel along rivers and forested corridors and they appear to be finding good routes to travel...
Bump said some female bears appear to be moving south too. And some might be setting up camp... and having babies.
“We think we have an established population now as far down as Grand Rapids, possibly into Ionia County. We're getting more and more reports of bears in southern Michigan, even bears that are too young to have moved, so they had to have been produced in southern Michigan.”
This past February, Williams and producer Mark Brush got the chance to tag along with MDNR biologists in Oceana County as they tranquilized a black bear to replace a radio tracking collar.
Now that the warm weather is here, the collared bear is likely loping around in search of food.
You can see the bear in a deep sleep in the video below.
Black bears are doing really well in Michigan. The Department of Natural Resources estimates there are somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 black bears in the state. They’re mostly in the U.P. and the northern lower peninsula. But in recent years... bears have been heading south and pushing into new territories.
Bears have been spotted in the Thumb, and around Flint, Grand Rapids, Battle Creek and Lansing.
Black bears have been doing well in northern Michigan for a while. There are somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 bears in the state, mostly in the U.P. and the northern lower peninsula, but in recent years, bears have been on the move.
Some people are already getting a little closer to bears than they’d like to.
“There’s one coming up to inspect...”
Terry Klein is a commercial beekeeper and he’s checking on the hives in his backyard.
“These are in good shape if they’re that far down and there’s that much honey on them,” said Klein.
He lives in St. Charles. It’s about 20 miles southwest of Saginaw.
“This spring is the most recent fun we had with the bear, if you want to call it that.”
Klein had 20 hives set up near the Saginaw-Midland county line. Only two of them survived the winter. And those last two hives were the ones the bear decided to eat. He left behind a calling card.
“There was one very definite paw print in one of the frames that had fallen or got knocked out of the hive, and there were several other frames that you could see claw marks.”
Bears do love honey, but they also love to eat the bee larvae. So they can devour the entire hive.
Black bears are not just wandering into the Saginaw area. They’ve been showing up all over southern Michigan.
Bear attacks are something we're used to hearing about out west or in Alaska, but in northern Michigan it can be rare just to see one.
The Detroit Free Press reports a hunter fought off a mother bear that was trying to climb into his tree stand.
Chad Fortune was bow hunting when two cubs tried to climb into his stand. He pushed them off, but the mother of the cubs put up more of a fight. Fortune was treated for his injuries at a nearby hospital. Wildlife officials say they plan to euthanize the bear.