A Walloon Lake man was injured Saturday night, Oct. 9, in his tree stand, when he was attacked by a female black bear and her three cubs in Bear Creek Township in Emmet County, according to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
Chad Fortune, 21, was treated at Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey for a bite to his left calf, thigh and shoulder. Investigation of the incident is ongoing and is being conducted by the DNRE, with assistance from the Emmet County Sheriff’s Department.
Fortune told law enforcement officials that he was bow hunting for deer just before dark on farmland in Bear Creek Township Saturday night when the bears approached and then climbed up his tree stand and attacked him.
Fortune said at first two cubs climbed up the trees tand ladder, and when he shouted at them, they dropped to the ground. A third bear then climbed up the tree, and the hunter punched and elbowed it until it fell from the tree. Then a bear climbed up the trees tand ladder and bit Fortune on the leg.
Fortune remained in the trees tand for two hours until his fiancee and father came looking for him, worried that he had not returned from hunting after nightfall. After helping him down from the tree stand, they transported Fortune to the hospital for treatment.
The DNRE’s preliminary investigation of the incident indicates that Fortune may have been wearing clothing underneath his camouflage hunting gear that smelled like fried food items from a family party he attended just prior to going hunting. A DNRE conservation officer and wildlife biologist who are investigating the incident theorize the bears were lured by the food scents on the hunter’s clothing.
“Anytime you are dealing with a sow and her cubs, you have a potentially dangerous situation,” said DNRE Wildlife Chief Russ Mason.. “A sow will do whatever it takes to protect her cubs if she perceives a threat. In this case, the hunter was not threatening the cubs, but the sow apparently thought he was, and she attacked him.”
The black bear is the only bear species native to Michigan, with approximately 90 percent of the bear population living in the Upper Peninsula. Black bears are shy by nature, and have a fear of humans. The fear of humans should remain intact, and the DNRE encourages Michigan residents and visitors to not leave food accessible to bears. Once a bear associates food with a human, the situation can become dangerous. For more information on bears in Michigan, including how to prevent problems between bears and humans, go to www.michigan.gov/bear.