Flint, Mi — April 20, 2021
A report of a car/bear accident near Flint has raised eyebrows across Southern Michigan. Yes, we all know the Upper and Northern Lower Penisula is home to Michigan black bears. What is surprising is the fact that their habitat is moving south.
Detroit’s ABC News station WXYZ reported the “Michigan State Police were investigating a crash that left a fully-grown black bear dead on I-75.” The accident happened near Beecher Road on the north side of Flint at approximately 1 am on Monday, April 19. “Police say the vehicle involved left the scene before troopers arrived.”
Bear sightings in the U.P and the “tip of the mitt” are fairly common occurrences. The fact that these massive creatures are being seen more often near urban centers in the lower portions of Michigan is a concern for many residents.
Expanding Bear Territory
“Every year we receive numerous reports of bears eating from bird feeders, garbage cans, grills, and campsites,” said Cody Norton, Michigan Department of Natural Resources(DNR) large carnivore specialist. “Leaving food accessible to bears is problematic for the bear and the community. Once a bear has found a food source, it will continue to return in search of a meal, and while you may enjoy seeing the bear, your neighbor may not. Bears that rely on human food sources often encounter people, causing them to lose their natural fear of humans.”
Additionally, chickens, apiaries (beehives), and other small livestock can attract the attention of a bear. To keep coops and beehives secured, install an electric fence or store in an enclosed area. For instructions and a list of materials to build an electric fence, see the DNR publication How to Protect Your Beehives from Black Bears brochure.
According to the DNR; Bear observations and encounters are more likely to occur during the spring and summer months, while bears forage for food. Most wild animals are generally fearful of humans and will leave if they are aware of your presence.
What to Do If You Encounter a Bear
How you react to an unexpected encounter with a Michigan black bear is extremely important to your safety.
DNR guidelines are published in a brochure you should be familiar with. If you encounter a bear in your yard or on a trail, remain calm and be bear SMART:
S – Stand your ground. Do not run or play dead.
M – Make loud noises and back away slowly.
A – Always provide a clear, unobstructed escape route for the bear.
R – Rarely do bears attack, if they do, fight back.
T – Treat bears with respect and observe them from a distance.
Also remember, female bears with young can be very aggressive. Avoid contact with a baby bear no matter how cute or what the circumstances are. Call the Michigan DNR Wildlife Division • 517-284-WILD (9453) if you spot a black bear scavaging in a residential area.
Black bears are beautiful animals, keep a safe distance when observing these fascinating creatures.