Birds will always use a bird feeder if given the chance; unfortunately, other critters may start visiting bird feeders this time of year, too.
"The majority of complaints we receive about bears involve a food source,” said Brian Mastenbrook, Department of Natural Resources field operations manager. “We strongly encourage people in northern Michigan to take down their bird feeders in the summer.”
Bird seed is especially attractive to bears because of its high fat content (compared to other natural food sources) and easy accessibility. Once a bird feeder is discovered, bears will keep coming back until the seed is gone or the feeder is removed.
While it is legal to feed the birds, those who do may be creating a potential safety issue by providing food for bears.
“Bears that are fed typically lose their natural fear of humans and can become a threat to people’s safety,” Mastenbrook said. “In some cases bears may even have to be euthanized.”
The easiest thing people can do to avoid problems is to remove their bird feeders during the spring and summer months.
With an estimated 2,000 adult bears in the northern Lower Peninsula, there are plenty of bears searching for food. Reliable, calorie-rich food sources such as bird feeders can draw bears from their natural habitat.
“We ask homeowners to do their part to reduce conflicts by eliminating the food sources in their yards,” said Mastenbrook. “Given time and no food reward, a bear will move along on its own.”
For your safety, never intentionally feed or try to tame bears – this is in your best interest as well as the bear’s. It is critical a bear retains its natural fear of humans.
Anyone who is experiencing problems with bears and has removed food sources for 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. Please be aware that some forms of assistance, such as trapping and relocating the bear, will not be provided unless non-natural food sources like bird feeders have been removed.
Learn more about Michigan’s black bears and how to prevent potential problems by visitingwww.michigan.gov/bear or by watching The Bear Essentials video.