It's a bear fact they are back and hungry

Wildlife officials say the hungry bears could target your bird feeders if you're not careful.

Bears are leaving their dens and on the hunt for food. Wildlife officials say the hungry bears could target your bird feeders if you're not careful.

Black bears emerge from their dens in April or May. The bears are hungry and searching for food, so don't entice them to come to your backyard by unintentionally feeding them.

The Department of Natural Resources says bears have enormous appetites and an excellent sense of smell, and are capable of remembering the locations of reliable food sources from year to year. They will travel great distances to find food. When natural foods such as vegetation, nuts, berries and insects are scarce, bear are likely to come into contact with people. Problems occur when bear attempt to feed or actually feed on human foods, garbage, pet foods or birdseeds.

Although most bear are secretive and shy by nature, they will tolerate contact with people when their natural food is scarce. Because they are large and powerful animals, this can create a dangerous situation.

Black bears

are generally fearful of humans and will leave if they are aware of your presence. In the rare circumstance that you encounter a bear that does not turn and leave, first try to scare it off by yelling while leaving a clear, unobstructed escape route for the bear. If the bear stands its ground, makes threatening sounds or bluff charges, you are too close. Take slow steps backward while continuing to talk to the bear in a stern tone. In the rare event of an attack, fight back with a backpack, stick or your bare hands. Black bears have retreated in similar situations.

The DNR says learning to recognize bear signs can add to the enjoyment of outdoor experiences. Tracks, droppings, claw-marked trees, turned-over rocks, torn-up tree stumps, or broken limbs of fruiting trees are all signs that a bear has been in the area. People who live in northern Michigan sometimes find bear signs in their own yards. Tipped-over trash cans broken bird feeders, and clawed buildings are evidence of a bear visit.

Bears have a natural fear of humans and it is best if that fear remains intact. If we leave foods accessible to bear, they may overcome their fear of humans in order to take advantage of it. Bears that learn to associate food with humans can be dangerous.

Prevention is the key to avoiding people-bear conflicts. Get some helpful advice to avoid problems



Check out the

bear facts

from the DNR.