Homesick bear travels 90 miles back to Traverse City
TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan – A seemingly nostalgic bear that was moved from an area in northwest Michigan where it had attacked bird feeders and garbage cans has traveled approximately 90 miles to return to the same location.
A radio collar placed on the bear indicates it is back in Grand Traverse County after its withdrawal in April from the Alpena region, the TRaverse City Record-Eagle reported on Friday.
The bear was trapped by state wildlife officials. He received a lip tattoo, ear tags and an electronic collar before being transported to the eastern Lower Peninsula.
Experts from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources using weekly aerial overflights followed the pass westward.
“For some reason he loves the Lake Michigan coast,” said Steve Griffith, wildlife biologist for MNR’s Traverse City office.
The bear’s learned habits in familiar territory across west from Traverse City are likely the reason for his return, Griffith added.
Locals have called a few sightings of the ear tagged bear, but no issues have been reported regarding bird feeders or destruction of trash cans.
“He’s stubborn. But I hope he’s reformed a bit,” Griffith said. “We will keep our fingers crossed.”
He isn’t the only bear currently roaming the Traverse City area.
One was pictured in a suburban front yard in Holiday Hills, and bears have been spotted in recent weeks southeast of the city, near the quiet Brown Bridge area.
Elk Rapids police even warned that a bear was hanging out in an area of the city midday Thursday, the newspaper reported.
Glen Lile said for the first time in 49 years of living at Holiday Hills that he recently encountered a black bear while walking around his neighborhood, a daily habit he kept for about seven years.
He was looking towards the side of the hill as he walked and when he turned his head back straight ahead there was a little bear standing near a house about 50 feet from where Lile had been. stopped.
“Around that time he decided to go up the hill,” Lile said. “It was very exciting to watch and I didn’t really feel threatened.”
Griffith said birdseed is a major attractant to bears, and that they can even smell its past presence in empty feeders.
“And they will definitely smell of outdoor grilling and, of course, garbage and even pet food left outside,” he said.
Rachel Leightner, MNR’s wildlife awareness coordinator, said Michigan is home to about 12,000 black bears. About 10,000 live in the Upper Peninsula, while 2,000 live in the Lower Peninsula.