NOTE: It’s that time of year again and black bears are on the move in Michigan. Here are tips from Michigan DNR about preventing nuisance bear encounters in the fall. —HM
Even though the weather has gotten cooler, black bears are still active throughout the fall as they prepare for hibernation and search for foods rich in calories to build up their fat reserves.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources advises northern Michigan residents to be aware of this autumn bear activity and take steps to avoid conflicts with bears.
In Michigan, bears typically enter their dens for hibernation by December, but timing can vary depending on food availability.
“When food sources are plentiful, bears can double their body weight in the fall to prepare for the time they will spend in the den,” said Rachel Leightner, DNR wildlife outreach coordinator. “Bears have an excellent sense of smell and will follow their nose in search of food. This may cause bears to move into new areas or return to areas where they have successfully gotten a meal in the past.”
Natural foods such as nuts and acorns from oak, hickory, and hazelnut trees are rich in calories and help to build fat reserves. Bird feeders also make an especially appealing and accessible food source as bird feed is high in calories. Bears also may be attracted to grills with food debris or unsecured trash.
Tips to help keeps bears at a distance:
Remove bird feeders until the winter months when bears are in their dens.
Make sure to clean grills after use or store them in a secure building.
Store trash cans in a secure building and put them out the morning of trash collection service.
Other information about preventing conflicts with bears at Michigan.gov/Wildlife.