TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – An apparently homesick bear who was moved from an area in northwestern Michigan where he had raided bird feeders and trash cans has traveled about 90 miles (144 kilometers) back to the same location.
A radio collar placed on the bear indicates he’s back in Grand Traverse County following his removal in April to the Alpena area, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported Friday.
The bear was trapped by state wildlife officials. He was given a lip tattoo, ear tags and fitted with the electronic collar before being carted to the eastern Lower Peninsula.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources experts using weekly plane flyovers tracked the collar heading back west.
“For some reason he likes the Lake Michigan coast,” said Steve Griffith, a wildlife biologist for the DNR’s Traverse City office.
The bear’s learned habits in familiar territory across Traverse City’s west side likely is the reason for his return, Griffith added.
A couple of sightings of the ear-tagged bear have been phoned in by area residents, but no problems have been reported regarding bird feeders or trash can destruction.
“He’s stubborn. But hopefully he’s a little bit reformed,” Griffith said. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”
He’s not the only bear currently roaming around the Traverse City area.
One was photographed in a suburban front yard in Holiday Hills, and bears were spotted in recent weeks southeast of town near the Brown Bridge Quiet Area.
Elk Rapids police even warned of a bear loafing around an in-town neighborhood in the middle of the day Thursday, the newspaper reported.
Glen Lile said for the first time in 49 years of living in Holiday Hills he recently came across a black bear while out walking his neighborhood, a daily habit he’s kept for about the last seven years.
He was looking off toward the hillside as he walked along and when he turned his head back straight ahead, there was a small bear standing near a house about 50 feet away from where Lile had stopped.
“About that time, he decided to run up the hill,” Lile said. “It was very exciting to see and I didn’t really feel threatened.”
Griffith said birdseed is a major attractant for bears, and they can even smell its past presence in empty bird feeders.
“And they will definitely smell outdoor grills and, of course, trash and even pet food left outside,” he said.
Rachel Leightner, DNR wildlife outreach coordinator, said Michigan is home to approximately 12,000 black bears. About 10,000 live in the Upper Peninsula, while 2,000 are in the Lower Peninsula.