Northern Michigan in Focus: Bear In The Yard

Do you ever have an unwanted guest that’s hard to get rid of? Sometimes all you have to do is get rid of the food. Here’s the story from Corey Adkins in this weeks Northern Michigan in Focus.

My wife Stephanie and I live in the country outside of McBain in a modest old farm house.

In the summer we like to sit on the porch and watch the deer run through the fields and relax. 

We also like to feed the birds, especially this time of year when the spring birds come home.

But it seems with the birds comes another visitor.

There are bears by our house.

“What do we have in our tree here? We have a big bear in our tree. He was actually here two days ago and I came out in the morning and the feeders were tossed,” said Stephanie Adkins.

DNR Wildlife Biologist, Vern Richardson said that was our problem.

“If you feed birds this time of year and even if you have bird food out during the day and bring your feeders in a night your yard still smells like food. That’s like leaving the McDonald’s sign in the window and expecting people to not pull into the drive-thru. It still smells like food looks like food. A bear they have an incredible sense of smell,” explained Richardson. ”If they walked by your yard during the daytime and smell food they may not come back until night time. If they learned the food is there during the day and not at night then you’re encouraging bears to come into your yard during daylight hours, which is what we do not want to see.”

So there we had a bear in our tree. A very drowsy, lethargic, sleepyhead of a bear.

“And he’s barely moving.  I wonder what kind of stock market he likes,” said Adkins.

He wasn’t interested in our humor either. So what do you do when you find a bear in your tree?

“If a bear runs up a tree, just let it be. It will come down once it’s comfortable,” said Richardson.

So that’s what we did. The next day we took the bird feeders down so no more birds, but no more bears.

“Even if you don’t mind the bears you might have your bird feeder set up in a way the bears can’t get to it but you are still teaching the bear that being around houses is a food source which habituates bears thinking they can be around people which can cause problems to people or pets in the future,” explained Richardson.

Bears will travel many miles for food and there’s more of them out there than you think. So if you don’t want these visitors, you may want to be vigilante with your bird seed.

“If you’re in bear country, and like I said I think the entire 9 &10 coverage area has bears, spring, summer and fall, bird feeding is problematic when it comes to bears,” said Richardson.

Categories: Northern Michigan In Focus