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The season to guard bird feeders against bears

The arrival of spring in the region means migrating birds are back, trees and greenery are coming back to life — and bears again are looking for an easy meal.

Which means feeders for those birds may be a target, wildlife experts say.

It’s the time of the year when those living in bear country should consider taking down those easy snacking stations before they attract a bear’s attention.

“The ideal situation is for a bear to walk past your property, not find a food reward and move along on its own,” Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife communication coordinator Katie Keen said. “That’s the best way to live with bears and not encourage conflict.”

The bears can’t be blamed. With much of its natural food sources still emerging at this point, they zero in on bird feeders for seeds and suet that are high in calories and fat.

And the Upper Peninsula has nearly 10,000 bears with a need to feed.

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

“The majority of calls we receive about bears involve a bird feeder. Taking the feeders down before they are found by a bear can eliminate future problems,” Keen said. “A bear doesn’t just forget an easy meal, and wild animals can pick up habits.”

It will draw bears out of their natural habitat, even when they might be able to switch to early spring roots or insect larvae.

The results aren’t just potentially damaging and dangerous to the feeders. It puts the bears at risk as well, because any that become too tame or even aggressive may have to be removed, even killed for the public’s safety.

“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,” Keen said.

For more information on bears in Michigan, go to mi.gov/bear. The DNR also has additional information on the state’s natural and cultural resources at www.michigan.gov/dnr.

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