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Pure Michigan Hunt winners harvest bear and elk


Pure Michigan Hunt winners Dave Gittins of Kawkawlin (right) and Jim Bosscher of McBain celebrate the 450-pound bear Gittins took in the Cadillac area.

Pure Michigan Hunt winners Dave Gittins of Kawkawlin (right) and Jim Bosscher of McBain celebrate the 450-pound bear Gittins took in the Cadillac area.

 

Every year Pure Michigan Hunt (PMH) winners get to spend their fall hunting seasons living out their dreams—pursuing elk, bear, deer, turkey and ducks in Michigan’s outdoors.

All three 2013 Pure Michigan Hunt winners recently harvested bear. Dave Gittins of Kawkawlin and Jim Bosscher of McBain both successfully harvested bear in the Cadillac area, using Wayne and Rob Nixon as their hunting guides.

Gittins harvested a 450-pound bear on public land. “This is my first bear,” said Gittins. “I’m still amazed at his size!”

Bosscher harvested his bear accompanied by Jenny Olsen from Michigan Out-of-Doors TV. “Hunting is all about the experience and the friends that you are with that make the memories,” said Bosscher.

Jason Webb, the PMH winner from Westland, also harvested a bear on public land in the Lewiston area.

Webb hasn’t hunted for his elk yet; he’s waiting to hunt the December elk season, while both Bosscher and Gittins have already taken theirs. PMH winners can hunt any open unit, during any hunt period for that animal. They are not restricted to a unit or a hunt period.

Pure Michigan Hunt winner Jim Bosscher of McBain with his 6x6 elk, taken near Vanderbilt.

Pure Michigan Hunt winner Jim Bosscher of McBain with his 6×6 elk, taken near Vanderbilt.

Gittins shot his choice elk on the morning of Sept. 15, the second week of the early elk hunt.

“Hearing those bulls bugle that close was an experience I will never forget,” said Gittins. “It truly was a hunt of a lifetime … I had the best hunt ever.”

Bosscher started out his elk season passing over many bulls, and even harvested a 9-inch-bearded turkey in between his morning and evening elk hunts. His waiting finally paid off on Sept. 29,when he took a 6×6 beauty. Bosscher used Chad Sides and Brett McVannel as guides to help land his bull in the Vanderbilt area.

“I had a fantastic time and will remember it forever,” Bosscher said.

For hunters who have dreams of experiences like this, there’s still plenty of time to make 2014 the hunt of your lifetime, by applying now and applying often. Along with all of the hunting licenses, each winner will receive a hunting prize package valued at more than $4,000. Visit www.michigan.gov/puremichiganhunt for more information and to purchase Pure Michigan Hunt applications.

Waterfowl season is coming up next for the Pure Michigan Hunt winners; look for more of their adventures coming soon.

 

 

 

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Bear DNA does not match bear that attacked girl


A black bear that was shot and killed last week is not the same bear that attacked a 12-year-old girl.

A black bear that was shot and killed last week is not the same bear that attacked a 12-year-old girl.

The DNA of a wounded bear killed Aug. 18 by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources does not match the DNA of the bear that attacked 12-year-old Abby Wetherell near Cadillac, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced. The bear’s carcass was examined by the DNR Wildlife Disease Laboratory in Lansing, in cooperation with Michigan State University and the Michigan State Police. Tests were conducted for disease, and the bear’s DNA was extracted. The bear DNA was then checked against DNA from fur and saliva lifted from Abby’s clothing and from the scene of the attack. The tests showed that the bear that attacked Abby was a female. The bear that was killed was a male.

The DNR will extend trapping efforts in the area of the attack through the end of the week and will continue to monitor bear activity in that location. The DNR asks the public to report bear sightings in the area of the attack, which is in Wexford County’s Haring Township. Reports can be made to the DNR’s Report All Poaching (RAP) Hotline, 800-292-7800, or the department’s Cadillac Operations Service Center at (231) 775-9727. The black bear is a protected species under Michigan law. The public is reminded not to shoot a bear unless the animal poses an immediate threat.  Bears are a natural part of the landscape within this area and their presence should not be seen as a threat.

The bear tested by the DNR was the result of a complaint received at about 11:30 p.m. Aug. 17 in Wexford County’s Selma Township. Michigan conservation officers arrived on the scene to find that a man had wounded the bear by gunshot on his property because he perceived the bear to be a threat to his life. Conservation officers subsequently tracked the bear and shot the animal at approximately 2:45 a.m. Aug. 18. The bear was not killed because it was suspected of being involved in the Aug. 15 attack on Abby. Once the animal was discovered, however, the bear was tested for a possible relationship to the attack because it was within about 2 miles of the attack location.

Michigan has an estimated black bear population of 8,000 to 10,000 bears with 90 percent of the population in the Upper Peninsula. The DNR reminds the public that black bears are generally fearful of humans and will usually leave if they become aware that people are present. Black bear attacks on humans are highly unusual. Many bear attacks occur because a sow is protecting her cubs. However, there is no evidence that cubs were present at the scene of the attack on Abby.

The DNR reminds those living in an area where bears may be present:

  • Travel in small groups and make noise to avoid surprising bears.
  • Stand your ground and then slowly back away if you encounter a bear. Do not turn away. Do not show fear and run. Do not play dead.
  • Make yourself look bigger and talk to the bear in a stern voice.
  • Fight back if actually attacked with anything at hand — a backpack, a stick, bare hands.
  • Carry pepper spray, which has been shown to be effective in fending off bear attacks.

For additional information on living with bears, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/bear.

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To prevent bear problems, remove all food sources


Hungry bears are often attracted to bird feeders. The Department of Natural Resources advises those who want to prevent bear problems to remove bird feeders and other attractants.

Hungry bears are often attracted to bird feeders. The Department of Natural Resources advises those who want to prevent bear problems to remove bird feeders and other attractants.

It might be hard to believe black bears see a bird feeder as food source, but they do. Bird feeders, garbage cans and barbeque grills are all bear attractants that humans can control.
Food, mating, and young bears establishing their own territories are all reasons bears are more noticeable right now. Bears typically mate in June or July, and the mother will kick out her yearlings in order to do so.
“Bears are looking for food and new territory,” said DNR bear and furbearer specialist Adam Bump. “While we might not think of bird feeders and trash cans as food sources, a hungry bear certainly may.
“The majority of complaints we receive about nuisance bears involve a food source. The easiest thing people can do to avoid creating a problem is to take in their bird feeders and store other attractants—like grills, trash cans and pet food—in a garage or storage shed.”
Bird seed is especially attractive to bears because of its high fat content and ease of access. Once bird feeders are discovered, bears will keep coming back until the seed is gone or the feeders have been removed. Bears are capable of remembering reliable food sources from year to year.
Bears that are rewarded with food each time they visit a yard can become habituated to man-made food sources. This can create an unsafe situation for the bear and become a nuisance for landowners if a bear continuously visits their yard during the day and repeatedly destroys private property in search of food.
Those who have taken appropriate actions to remove food sources for a period of two to three weeks, but are not seeing results, should contact the nearest DNR office and speak with a wildlife biologist or technician for further assistance.
For more information about bears go to www.michigan.gov/bear.

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Notes from the field: A lucky day


Wildlife biologists collar three bears in Newaygo

A female black bear crossing in front of wildlife biologist Pete Kailing’s truck.

A female black bear crossing in front of wildlife biologist Pete Kailing’s truck.

DNR wildlife biologist Pete Kailing recently had one of those days at work that he’ll never forget. “I couldn’t believe the luck we had that day,” Kailing said. “Sometimes it just feels like everything is working against you, but days like this are magic.”

Kailing is the wildlife biologist out of Big Rapids, who covers Oceana, Newaygo and Mecosta counties.

The Department of Natural Resources and Michigan State University are currently conducting a research project studying southern Michigan bear movements. Getting radio collars on bears is crucial to this study. This sounds much easier than it actually is. However, everything was in the right place recently, at the right time in northern Newaygo County.

Dwayne Etter, lead DNR research biologist out of Rose Lake, and his crew had just finished up trapping and radio-collaring a small bear nearby. Kailing had been on hand to assist in the effort, and everyone was wrapping up the successful collaring effort and headed in their own directions, when Kailing came around a curve and saw a female bear and her cub feeding in the open area.

“The two bears ran for the woods, and conveniently the cub ran up a tree,” Kailing said. “This was the perfect scenario. I quickly called Etter to tell him where I was and to get here fast.”

Trapping bears can be time-consuming—finding a good trap location, baiting the trap frequently, checking traps daily if not twice a day, and still you may not get the bear. Having a treed cub, with the sow nearby and DNR staff in the immediate area, is stroke of luck.

Kailing waited in his truck for Etter to arrive. Meanwhile, the female bear circled Kailing in his truck, and finally went up the tree with the cub.

When Etter arrived, the two were able to tranquilize the two bears, attach radio collars and gather other important information needed for the bear research project.

“In one day we had three bears collared—it was a great day,” said Kailing.

To learn more about Michigan’s bear populations, visit www.michigan.gov/bear.

 

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Spring weather has bears and other wildlife on the move


Hungry bears emerging from their winter hibernation are often attracted to bird feeders. To avoid problems with nuisance bears, the Department of Natural Resources advises Michigan residents to take bird feeders down temporarily until natural food sources become available.

Hungry bears emerging from their winter hibernation are often attracted to bird feeders. To avoid problems with nuisance bears, the Department of Natural Resources advises Michigan residents to take bird feeders down temporarily until natural food sources become available.

Although it is still quite cold outside, Michigan’s wildlife knows the spring season is here (based on the increase of daylight hours) and is beginning to wake up from its winter hibernation. Bears are one of the animals starting to emerge from their dens. Food and mating are the two drivers behind the increase of wildlife that Michigan residents may be seeing lately. Since bears typically mate in June or July, food is the primary cause for the increase in bear activity during the spring.

“At this time of year, bears are looking for food,” said DNR bear and furbearer specialist Adam Bump. “They are hungry after spending months in their dens, and while we might not think of bird feeders and trash cans as food sources, a hungry bear certainly may.”

Each spring, as bears leave their winter dens and resume daily activity, wildlife officials begin receiving calls about bear sightings and even the occasional bear damaging bird feeders, trash cans and grills. Birdseed is especially attractive to bears because of its high fat content and easy accessibility. Once bird feeders are discovered, bears will keep coming back until the seed is gone or the feeders have been removed.

“The majority of complaints we receive about nuisance bears in the spring involve a food source. The easiest thing people can do to avoid creating a problem is to temporarily take in their bird feeders and store other attractants, like grills, trash cans and pet food, in a garage or storage shed,” Bump said. “Once the woods green up, bears tend to move on to find more natural sources of food, as long as they haven’t become habituated to the birdseed or garbage cans.”

Bears that are rewarded with food each time they visit a yard can become habituated to these food sources unintentionally provided by people. This can create an unsafe situation for the bear and become a nuisance for landowners if a bear continuously visits their yard during the day and repeatedly destroys private property in search of food.

DNR Wildlife Division staff members are unable to respond directly to each nuisance bear complaint, and instead ask that landowners do their part to help reduce potential food sources in their yards first before calling for further assistance. The trapping of nuisance bears is only authorized by DNR wildlife officials in cases of significant property damage or threats to human safety when other techniques have failed. Anyone who is experiencing problems with nuisance bears and has taken the appropriate action to remove food sources for a period of two to three weeks, but has not seen results, should contact the nearest DNR office and speak with a wildlife biologist or technician for further assistance.

For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/bear.

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Stolen bear statue returned


A 7-foot, 250-pound, hand-carved bear statue that was stolen from in front of a business in Montcalm County has been recovered.

According to the Montcalm County Sheriff Department, the unique bear was stolen sometime during the evening of Sunday, July 17, from in front of Distinct Discovery Homes, 8091 W. Peck Road, northeast of Greenville.

After seeing a story on the incident on a local news station, the suspect called police. The statue was recovered by deputies about 10 miles away at the home of a teenage boy. The bear’s arms were missing and its face was damaged.

The Sheriff department said that media coverage of the incident played a substantial role in recovery of the bear.

The suspect is expected to be charged with larceny.

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