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Tag Archive | "Katie Keen"

Help keep Michigan black bears at a distance


 

Bear bird feeder: Bears commonly are attracted to bird feeders for their access to easy protein and fat calories. Food can erode the natural fear of humans that bears have.

The Department of Natural Resources asks Michigan residents to help keep the state’s up-north icon a wild animal by keeping bears at a distance. With many people (whether they’re seasonal visitors or year-round residents) outdoors and enjoying northern Michigan in the summer months, removing bird feeders is an easy answer to bear problems.

“When situations occur concerning a bear, some form of food has usually attracted the bear into the area,” said DNR wildlife communications coordinator Katie Keen. “The common element is usually a bird feeder—seed, suet and even hummingbird feeders. The good news is a homeowner can choose to take control of the situation.”

Michigan’s bear range: Much of Michigan’s bear population can be found in the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula.

Michigan’s estimated black bear population is over 12,000 adult bears—2,000 in the northern Lower Peninsula and 10,000 across the Upper Peninsula. Typically, black bears are shy animals, but they have a great sense of smell and can remember a food source. As a result, a black bear will go places it normally wouldn’t if a food reward is available.

In addition to bird feeders, pet food, garbage, barbeque grills and beehives also can attract bears. Pet food should be stored indoors, as should garbage, until the time of pickup. Garbage that is set out the night before can attract bears and can have more of an impact than just an overturned garbage can.

“Bears are smart, so we have to be smarter,” said Keen. “They are wild animals that are unpredictable and can travel many miles. Your habits can affect those around you, and a bear that loses its natural fear of humans because food has been introduced can end up being bold or dangerous and may need to be put down.”

Michigan’s bear population generally is found in the northern half of the Lower Peninsula and across the Upper Peninsula. Bears eat most items found in the forest, including plants, berries, nuts, acorns, insects and, occasionally, small mammals. Because bears will eat most anything, their behavior and normal travel patterns will change if an easy food source is discovered.

“Don’t wait for the first time a bear knocks down your bird feeder or garbage can; be proactive and don’t let a habit form,” said Keen.

Learn more about living with bears and ways to avoid attracting bears to your property with the DNR’s “The Bear Essentials” video on Michigan.gov/wildlife.

Bear population and distribution are managed through regulated bear hunting. Michigan’s bear hunting seasons vary by bear management unit, with the first 2017 season starting Sept. 8. A total of 7,140 bear hunting licenses will be available this fall. Bear hunting licenses are distributed through a preference point system.

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Living in bear country


OUT-Bear-Country

Remove bird feeders now to reduce conflicts with bears later

Longer daylight hours, warming temperatures and new green plants have wildlife moving and sightings increasing. Michigan’s black bear is a species that attracts a lot of attention when spotted. Michiganders love black bears—this  up-north icon decorates walls and coffee mugs, homes, restaurants and hotels. However, spring also brings increased phone calls to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources from home and business owners who have issues with bears.

“Everyone has a different point when they are going to pick up the phone and call us,” said DNR wildlife communications coordinator Katie Keen. “The majority of calls we receive about bears involve a bird feeder that has been visited multiple times. Taking the feeder down before it’s found by a bear can eliminate future problems. A bear doesn’t forget a free meal.”

Keen said that the easiest thing people living in bear country can do to avoid problems is remove bird feeders during the spring and summer months. Black bears are found throughout more than half the state. With an estimated 2,000-plus adult bears in the northern Lower Peninsula and almost 10,000 in the Upper Peninsula, there are a lot of bears searching for food, even with plenty of natural food sources available.

Bears find bird seed and suet especially attractive because of their high fat content compared to other natural food sources, and these foods draw bears out of their natural habitat, where normally they would be eating roots of early spring plants and insect larvae.

Once a bird feeder is discovered, a bear will keep coming back until the seed is gone or the feeder has been removed.

“Bears that receive a food reward when around homes, yards and neighborhoods typically lose their natural fear of humans and can become a threat to humans and pets,” said Keen. “If a bear walks through your property and no food reward is given, the bear will move along on its own. Help your community and keep bears at a distance. Bears are smart, so be smarter, and remove your bird feeders so you don’t attract bears to your property.”

For your safety, never intentionally feed or try to tame bears—it is in your, and the bear’s, best interest.

Learn more about Michigan’s black bear and how to prevent potential bear problems by visiting http://tinyurl.com/michiganbears and watching “The Bear Essentials” video or visiting mi.gov/bear.

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Not everyone goes south for the winter


For some, the Great Lakes are a winter destination

Did you know the Great Lakes have thousands of feathered friends floating out there right now? Have you ever wondered how duck, geese and swan populations are tracked?

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with many other states in the nation, estimate duck, geese and swan populations (waterfowl) by looking at areas that traditionally hold birds in January—the open water.

“Anytime Mother Nature causes wildlife to naturally group together, surveying can be much more efficient,” said DNR wildlife biologist Mark Monroe. “Looking for birds by truck or plane at the same time across the nation gives agencies a great feel for populations and habitat trends.”

From Jan. 5-11, DNR staff visited (either by plane or truck) the same areas that have been surveyed in the past, not just to count waterfowl but also to identify the species. Mallards were the most common duck observed, although many “diving ducks” or sea ducks—such as canvasbacks and redheads—were counted.

“I’ve been flying this survey in the northern Lower Peninsula for quite a few years,” said Monroe, “and I have seen thousands of ducks every year out in the open water; it’s really neat to see.”

The northern Lower Peninsula area was flown by plane. One DNR pilot and two DNR observers spent the day traveling over 750 miles, searching out large groups of waterfowl in water that still remains open. The Manistee River, Lake Michigan from Pentwater to the Sleeping Bear Dunes, the inlet at Elberta and the Grand Traverse Bay area are locations in Northern Michigan where large numbers of birds are traditionally found. The crew revisits other “hot spots” where they have found waterfowl populations in the past, conducting flyovers at elevations of 200 to 500 feet. The Great Lakes and large rivers hold thousands of ducks that will spend the winter here, either because they are resident birds and do not migrate or because they have migrated to the Great Lakes from farther north. That’s right—some waterfowl that breed near the Arctic will actually head south to the Great Lakes to winter!

“In the northern Lower Peninsula we counted just over 12,000 ducks, just under 100 geese and more than 300 mute swans,” said Monroe. “It’s amazing how many birds are out on the water that’s still open.”

Winter waterfowl surveys can help detect any significant changes in the populations as well as help determine results of recent waterfowl hunting seasons and help dictate further regulations for future seasons. The January waterfowl survey also provides the best information on the number of mute swans in Michigan so population trends can be established for yearly comparisons.

To learn more about the different wildlife surveys completed by the DNR, visit the Wildlife Surveys page on the DNR website or contact DNR wildlife outreach technician Katie Keen at 231-775-9727.

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