MICHIGAN — As black bears in Michigan are preparing for their winter hibernation the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is encouraging people t remove their bird feeders.
According to the DNR, black bears spend months foraging for foods rich in calories to bulk up their fat reserves as one-third of their body weight during hibernation.
Black bears have a strong sense of smell and will follow their nose to find acorns, hickory nuts, hazelnuts and even bird feeders. Bird feeders are appealing to them because it is high in calories and easy to access.
“While foraging, bears may move into new areas in search of food or return to a location where they previously found a meal,” said Rachel Leightner, wildlife outreach coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division. “During this time, we ask everyone to consider removing their bird feeders and any other potential food sources until bears have entered their dens in December.”
The DNR reports that black bears will likely enter their dens for hibernation in December but timing ca vary depending on food availability. Bears may start entering dens in early October, with females typically entering dens earlier than males.
“Even if you enjoy wildlife watching and seeing black bears, it’s critical for the health and safety of a bear to not eat from human-provided food sources. Bears that seek out these types of foods are more at risk to lose their fear of humans, which ultimately may lead to an unfortunate outcome for the bear,” Leightner said.
Additionally, bears can be attracted to grills with food debris, unsecured trash, and outdoor pet food. More information on preventing conflicts with bears can be found online.