DNR: Take bird feeders down so bears stay away

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A still image taken from trail camera video shows a black bear checking out a bird feeder outside a home in northwest Grand Rapids. (Aug. 14, 2019)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Looking to fatten up for winter, black bears in Michigan may be drawn to your backyard, state wildlife officials warn.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is advising people to take down bird feeders or clear away anything else that that may attract bears, like trash, pet food you keep outdoors or grills that still have food on them.

The DNR says black bears may start hibernating as early as October, which means they are already looking for calorie-rich food to get them through the winter. Their keen sense of smell could bring them to your bird feeder; the seed has those high calories.

“Even if you enjoy wildlife watching and seeing black bears, it’s critical for the health and safety of a bear to not eat from human-provided food sources,” DNR wildlife outreach coordinator Rachel Leightner stated in a release. “Bears that seek out these types of foods are more at risk to lose their fear of humans, which ultimately may lead to an unfortunate outcome for the bear.”

Black bear sightings are most common in West Michigan in the spring, when young males set off on their own looking for food. The bears are not generally aggressive. If you stay away from them, they won’t bother you.

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