Black Bear Seen Swimming Across Muskegon Lake

Posted at 1:15 PM, May 13, 2013

NORTH MUSKEGON, Mich.– Neighbors in one Muskegon community are told to be careful after a black bear was spotted this morning. Several people claim they saw the lost animal near Muskegon Lake around 7 a.m. According to officials with the Department of Natural Resources, the bear was chased from an area near Great Lakes Marina on the north side of the lake, and likely swam three miles to the south shore before taking off through some wetlands.

While a bear in the area is not completely uncommon, the DNR says it hasn’t happened in a few years.

Something occurred during Fred Simmons 10 mile bike ride that he certainly didn’t expect Monday morning.

“I was riding my bike around 7 a.m. and a bear crossed the lake and got into those cattail,” said Simmons. “That’s when conservation officers and DNR and police were called out. They stopped me. So, I came back on the hill and that’s when I saw the bear again. He crossed through the cattail and came along the shoreline and literally climbed the fence.”

Simmons said he came within a few hundred feet of the black bear. Dan Gorajec also couldn’t believe his eyes.

“It looked like it was 200, 250, 300 pounds.”

Word of the black bear heading into town spread quickly. Folks pulled over, grabbed their binoculars and hoped to catch a glimpse of the lost bear.

“This was interesting because the bear came into an urban environment,” said Simmons.

Ironically, Kathy Evans and her team are working along the lakeshore to restore wetlands. She said they had to stop their project when they heard the bear was in the area.

“I think its cool,” said Evans. “I like that he’s enjoying our habitat but I want him and everyone to be safe.”

DNR officers guarded a fenced in area on the south side of Muskegon Lake, believed to be where the bear was hiding all morning. They think it’s a young male, likely pushed out of his den, and on the move to find a new place to live.

Listen to the Calls to 911 below.

If you have photos or video of the bear in Muskegon County, please email them to us: