Family comes face to face with black bear while camping

Posted at 11:19 PM, May 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-30 23:32:08-04

LAKE COUNTY, Mich. – Memorial Day weekend was cut short for one family after DNR officials shot and killed a bear that made an unexpected visit to a local campsite.

It happened early Sunday morning on a private campground in Lake County after Kara Hillard says she came face-to-face with the bear.

“There was something looking back at me but it didn’t look like a chipmunk or a mouse that we’d seen in the woodpile before,” Hillard said.

Instead, it was a 110 pound black bear hiding in a tree in Peacock Township, waiting for the chance to grab some food according to Hillard.

“We had just popped popcorn prior to that and we think that’s what brought him in closer,” Hillard told FOX 17.

The animal then left the tree and perched itself on top of the family’s woodpile.

“I got up and walked over and said to my son-in-law, ‘what is that noise?’” said Hillard.

Shining the light on the bear, Hillard said she found herself face-to-face with the hungry bear.

“I had never seen a bear or come that close to one,” said Hillard. “So we decided we’d call 911 and have the DNR take him away from camp because we had babies and toddlers, and we had the dogs.”

Hillard was hoping officials would tranquillize and relocate the bear but said the DNR told her, it wasn’t an option. That the animal was just “too friendly” with humans.

“They did allow us to sit in the vehicles and they did prepare us for the shots that would be fired,” said Hillard.

The bear was shot multiple times, once in the eye before it died and fell from the woodshed. Officials took the bear away in a truck. Hillard said she and her family are upset over the loss of the bear but thankful her family is safe and sound to tell the story.

“It’s sad, we didn’t want him killed,” explained Hillard. “We just wanted him away from the family and we didn’t want others to be hurt.”

FOX 17 reached out to the DNR for a statement for their offices were closed for Memorial Day. We’re told these types of interactions can be avoided by removing any type of food source from your campsite: including birdseed, dog food, and trash.