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black bears

Jethro Taylor / Flickr, http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

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.

New rules forbid chocolate as bear bait in Michigan

Mar 10, 2017
Ken Thomas / wikimedia commons

Hunters won't be allowed to bait bears with chocolate for the 2017 hunting season.

The DNR's Natural Resources Commission passed new regulations that apply to bear hunting, including a ban on bait containing chocolate or cocoa products. 

Chocolate is popular with hunters as a bait for the same reasons it's attractive to humans -- it's sweet and high in calories. But chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine that is toxic to many animals, including dogs, bears, and many species of wildlife such as wolves and coyotes.

Steve Hillebrand / Creative Commons

Black bear populations in the northern Lower Peninsula are booming.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the population has increased almost 50 percent since 2000. Kevin Swanson, a wildlife management specialist for the DNR, says this is creating a nuisance for some Michigan residents.

"We have had a pretty notable increase in complaints in the northern Lower Peninsula, especially in Baldwin, over the last few years and that continues to climb," Swanson said. "We've had more notable complaints like bluff charges on humans and some dogs being killed."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

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.”