Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bear sighting confirmed in Washtenaw County

From AnnArbor.comm

The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department has confirmed that there is at least one black bear in Washtenaw County. The confirmed sighting was in Webster Township in the area of Mast and Huron River Drive.

This confirmation comes after three bear sightings on Saturday, two at Hudson Mills Metropark, and one at a home in a subdivision just across Dexter-Pinckney Road from the park.

I'm surprised that there hasn't been more sightings in the farm areas between there and Clare. There isn't a ton of wooded areas between those areas. For a giant animal, they are quite good at avoiding people.

I saw two bears when I was out hunting one time Up North. It was an amazing sight since I've never seen them in the wild. I wasn't bear hunting and they were not a threat to me, so I didn't shoot them. They were about 300 yards away eating. I did the best thing possible, leave them alone.

The number one rule with nature is to use common sense. That is more and more uncommon with cityfolk and suburban residents largely removed from predators. Look at how many feed the deer. Bears are wild animals. They are dangerous. Just because animals are "cute" doesn't mean that they are not dangerous. Nature can be dangerous. Deer are driving hazards and can attack in rutting season. Raccoons and skunks carry rabies. Coyotes will go after small animals. Even turkeys can attack with their talons. That doesn't mean that it's common when they attack. That doesn't mean I expect it to happen. Nature needs to be respected. You don't go up to strange dogs you see for a reason. Generally giving nature its space is safe for everybody.

Common sense with bears 101:

1. Bears have a healthy fear of people. They try to avoid people. That's a good thing. Don't feed the bears. They will be a problem if they start associating humans with food. One story from a campsite with cidiots ended in trouble. A family saw a bear, fed it, and the bear followed them to the car. It got on top of the car and jumped on it. That's not the bear's fault. It's doing what bears do. I don't know if the bear ended up being euthanize or not, but that stuff usually ends in bad news for the bear as well as the folks who feed them.

2. Leave them alone. Just because you see a bear, doesn't mean it's going to eat you. They prefer fish, garbage, and easier targets. Don't harass them and take flash pictures of them. A scared bear may run or fight. If the cubs are nearby, expect the mama bear to fight.....and win.

3. Store food away from campsites. Store trash away from the house. This is the most overlooked thing. If I go up north camping, I learn quickly to store food away from campsites. That's especially true in the U.P. Why? Bears make sneak down and take the food for themselves while you sleep. If you leave trash out, you'll attract the bears, and raccoons for that matter. Easy food.

Hopefully the re-arrival of bears in Southern Michigan teaches all of us respect for nature. I'd like to see them reduce the coyote population a bit too.

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