bears

Law
12:28 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Men busted for trying to 'commercialize' black bear organs

It’s against the law to buy and sell certain wildlife organs
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

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.

Environment & Science
11:32 am
Mon August 19, 2013

After 12-year-old girl was attacked, officers kill black bear

A black bear.
Photo by Alan Vernon

Here's how the Michigan Department of Natural Resources describes last Thursday's bear attack on 12-year-old Abby Wetherell:

Read more
Environment & Science
2:42 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Black bear drops by middle school in Mancelona

Bears are on the move in Michigan. This young black bear was spotted in Washtenaw County.
Courtesy Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department

The Mancelona Middle School had a surprise visitor on Monday.

According to Michael Walton of the Traverse City Record-Eagle, around 9 a.m. a black bear lumbered onto school grounds.

The school’s principal, Chad Culver, was meeting with a teacher when he first spotted the bear.

"Literally out by the bike rack, which is about 20 feet from my window, was a black bear," Culver said

The bear prompted a 10-minute stay-in-place lockdown. Students were not allowed to leave the building. Shortly after the lockdown went into effect, the bear was spotted crossing U.S. 131 west of town.

Read more
Politics & Government
3:17 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Bear cub petting zoo bill headed to Governor Snyder’s desk

beingmyself flickr

Governor Rick Snyder will have final say on a bill that would let tourists handle and take pictures with bear cubs. The state Senate today approved changes made by the House last week.

The bill would let the public handle cubs up to 36 weeks old or less than 90 pounds.

Some lawmakers worried the measure would lead to a surge of new bear petting zoos across the state looking to cash in on the experience.

But lawmakers in the state House last week limited the bill so it would only apply to businesses already offering bear petting.

Bill sponsor Senator Tom Casperson had opposed the change, but says it was necessary to get enough votes in the House.

Read more
Law
3:49 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Meet the man behind the bear cub bill

Dean Oswald
oswaldsbearranch.com

The Michigan House approved a bill Thursday to allow tourists to come in close contact with bear cubs.

The bill only really affects one bear sanctuary in the Upper Peninsula.

Meet Don Oswald of the Oswald Bear Ranch.

“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.

Read more
Politics & Government
2:58 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Bear cub handling one step closer to being legal in Michigan

Courtesy of Pure Michigan

Michiganders could have the chance to pet and take photos with bear cubs, under legislation approved by the House, and passed by the Senate last month.

Senate Bill 48 would amend the state's "Large Carnivore Act."

More from the Associated Press:

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.

MPRN's Jake Neher reported on last month's Senate vote on the bill.

Senator Rebekah Warren was one of the Senators who voted against the bill.

She says lawmakers should put residents’ safety ahead of the financial benefit of a single business.

“It’s just this reminder that wild animals do always have the potential to be dangerous, to act in a way that’s unpredictable that could result in harm to our citizens.”

The bill will now go back to the Senate for final approval and then make its way to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk where it will likely be signed into law.

Politics & Government
2:30 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Michigan's zoos opposed to 'bear cub handling' bill

A couple poses with a bear cub at Oswald Bear Ranch, Newberry, Michigan
Courtesy of Pure Michigan

Legislation to allow tourists to hold and pose for photos while holding bear cubs is being criticized by Michigan’s zoo keepers.

The state senate passed a bill this month that would allow exhibitors to let people come into very close contact with bears less than nine months old and under 90 pounds.

The legislation is intended to help a bear sanctuary in the Upper Peninsula that funds its operations, in part, by letting tourists hold and pose for pictures with bear cubs.

Tara Harrison says that’s a bad idea.  She’s the veterinarian at Lansing’s Potter Park.

Read more
Environment & Science
10:47 am
Fri February 15, 2013

State Senate approves bear cub petting zoos

beingmyself flickr

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.

Read more
Politics & Government
8:42 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Commentary: Roads vs. bears

Lessenberry commentary for 2/15/13

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.

Read more
Politics & Government
1:26 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Bear cub petting zoo bill will come up again in 2013

beingmyself flickr

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.

Read more
Environment & Science
1:54 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

Spring brings more bear sightings in West Michigan

Ken Thomas wikimedia commons

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.

Last year, the Environment Report's Rebecca Williams took a look at these southward-drifting bears and spoke to Adam Bump, a bear specialist with the MDNR:

[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.

- John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Environment
9:01 am
Tue February 21, 2012

Visiting a black bear den

An 11-year-old male black bear that was just placed back in his den after a checkup by DNR bear experts. He's still under the effects of the tranquilizer in this photo, but the drugs will wear off soon.
Mark Brush/Michigan Radio

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.

Dwayne Etter is a bear researcher with the DNR.

Read more
Environment
9:00 am
Tue February 21, 2012

WATCH: Biologists dart hibernating black bear in Michigan

Biologists have been following this black bear in Michigan since 2010. They're tracking him, and other bears to find out how bears are moving southward in the state.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Rebecca Williams and I recently tagged along with biologists from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to watch them tranquilize and re-collar an 11-year-old black bear in Oceana County.

The bear is one of many bears researchers are watching as part of the Southern Michigan Bear Habitat Use and Movements study.

Here's the video we made from that trip:

Environment
10:43 am
Tue December 6, 2011

Black bears moving south

A hungry black bear left its paw print in a frame of Terry Klein's beehive.
Photo by Terry Klein

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.

Read more
When animals attack
10:15 am
Wed October 13, 2010

Bear attack in northern Michigan

A Black bear carrying a decaying Salmon near Hyder, Alaska.
Alan Vernon Creative Commons

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.

Read more