On bears and other wildlife, listen to the DNR

Ah, spring. Sun’s starting shine. Grass is greening. Flowers soon to bloom. Birds chirping, hungry for the feeder you’re all too happy to refill …

… and bears waking up from their winter slumber, lumbering into your back yard for a nibble.

On Monday, News reporter Julie Riddle brought to readers the warnings of Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Shelby Hiestand that Michiganders should be careful feeding birds this time of year, lest the protein-heavy seeds attract a curious, sleep-hungry bear. Hiestand also recommends residents put their trash cans to the curb on the morning of trash pick-up, not the night before, to avoid attracting the furry omnivores.

Bears “are so smart they can learn trash pick up day,” Hiestand told Riddle. “They’ll come once a week because they know that’s the day, and they’ll make a big mess … You have a lot of people in neighborhoods, with their bird feeders out and regular trash pick-up, and they are right next to a swamp that’s a great bear habitat.”

That caution follows shortly after Riddle detailed the DNR’s request that residents not fondle any baby animals they may find in the wild this time of year, which can put the springlings in danger.

A closeness to nature is one of the best parts of living in northern Michigan, but with that treasure comes the responsibility to interact with nature responsibly.

We encourage residents to heed the warnings of wildlife experts from the DNR. Take down your birdfeeders at night. Wake up early to put your trash at the curb.