Bear expert offers program
BALDWIN — With the bear population numbers on the rise in the area over the past few years, the Michigan black bear was a popular topic during Wednesday Night with a Ranger, a weekly program presented by Pathfinder Community Library in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service.
Katie Keen, with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Cadillac Post, discussed facts about black bears and answered questions during the program at the U.S. Forestry last Wednesday evening.
She said bear dealing with bears can be an issue.
"The problem with bear management is bears keep coming back repeatedly if you try to move them. It is especially an issue when they've lost their fear of humans,. We do trap and remove some bears, which we take more than 75 miles away," she said. "If they lost their fear of humans, we harvest them so they don't come back and cause problems for someone else. We have people we take meat to from bears we harvest."
She gave some do's and don'ts when it comes to dealing with bears, including:
• Carry pepper spray;
• Travel in small groups;
• Make noise;
• Stand one's ground and back away slowly;
• Appear bigger;
• Talk to the bear in a firm tone;
• Fight back if attacked;
• Don't show fear or run; and
• Don't play dead.
"We need to educate people that we live in bear country. People are out with bears all the time and are often unaware of them. We want to keep the natural fear bears have for humans," she said. "Hunters are having more success harvesting bears, indicating the bear population is on the rise."
Keen said they have been offering bear curriculum for sixth-through-eighth graders in schools. Students get to follow the life of a bear and bear biology through bears the DNR track. The DNR is currently tracking three bears in the Baldwin area.
"We hope students and others will find bears fascinating and support management," she said.
Keen said bears can be shot without a license if they are attacking people, livestock or pets, but people are to immediately contact the DNR after shooting it.