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Living with bears
  • Black Bear ImageNever intentionally feed a bear! With the exception of baiting for hunting purposes in remote areas, placing food to attract bear near homes, cottages, parks, campgrounds and picnic areas may teach them to associate people with food. This may place them and people at risk of injury.

    Black bear have enormous appetites and an excellent sense of smell, and are capable of remembering the locations of reliable food sources from year to year. They will travel great distances to find food. When natural foods such as tender vegetation, nuts, berries and insects are scarce, bear are likely to come into contact with people. Problems occur when bear attempt to feed or actually feed on human foods, garbage, pet foods or birdseeds.

    Although most bear are secretive and shy by nature, they will tolerate contact with people when their natural food is scarce. Because they are large and powerful animals, they must be respected.

    Black bear are generally fearful of humans and will leave if they are aware of your presence. In the rare circumstance that you encounter a bear that does not turn and leave, first try to scare it off by yelling while leaving a clear, unobstructed escape route for the bear. If the bear stands its ground, makes threatening sounds or bluff charges, you are too close. Take slow steps backward while continuing to talk to the bear in a stern tone. In the rare event of an attack, fight back with a backpack, stick or your bare hands. Black bears have retreated in similar situations.

• Living With Bears In Michigan PDF icon In this document you will find information about bear behavior, habitat and food preferences. You will also find information on preventing bear problems at your home or while camping, what to do in a bear encounter and how you can help bears in Michigan.


Resources for Living With Bears

• Protecting Bee Apiaries From Bears PDF icon

• Preventing Bear Problems in Michigan (brochure) PDF icon

• Did a Predator Kill or Injure My Livestock? (brochure) PDF icon

• How to Minimize Livestock Losses to Predators (brochure) PDF icon

• Problem Bear Guidelines (from Michigan Black Bear Management Plan) PDF icon