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Remove bird feeders now to reduce conflicts with bears

Courtesy Photo provided by Michigan DNR An upright black bear, looking at the camera, pawing at a bird feeder hanging from a tree.

As spring approaches, black bears will soon wake from their long winter sleep and start the search for their first nourishing meal of the year. To avoid potential conflicts with bears, it’s a good idea to take down bird feeders and remove other food sources that may attract wildlife.

While black bears primarily are found in the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula, they occasionally are spotted in southern counties, too. After leaving their dens, bears look for leafy green vegetation to replenish their bodies after months of hibernation. Given the chance, though, these opportunistic feeders will take advantage of available food sources such as calorie-rich bird seed, garbage cans and pet foods.

“Many of us have enjoyed watching birds visit feeders during the winter months, especially while working from home and sheltering in place,” said Hannah Schauer, communications and education coordinator in the DNR Wildlife Division. “But as wildlife become more active in the spring, bird seed can attract more than just birds to your yard.”

No matter what, it’s important to keep wildlife visitors at a distance for the safety of the animals and people. Help your community avoid bear conflicts by removing your bird feeders now, securing trash cans in enclosed areas and taking in pet foods that may be outside.

To learn more about being Bear SMART this spring, visit Michigan.gov/Wildlife or contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

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