Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Michigan’s Black Bear Management

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is working to develop a Statewide Bear Management Plan. We hope to have the plan finalized in the Spring of 2009. Public involvement throughout the planning process is critical in order to create a plan that is acceptable to as many Michigan citizens as possible.

The mission of the Department's black bear management program is to maintain a healthy black bear population that provides a balance of recreational opportunities for residents while at the same time minimizing conflicts with humans. Goals of the Management Plan are:

    1. Maintain a viable bear population within habitats suitable for the species where socially acceptable.
    2. Maintain bear abundance at levels compatible with land use, recreational opportunities, and the public's acceptance capacity for bear.
    3. Manage black bear habitat to provide for the long-term viability of the species.
    4. Use hunting as the primary tool to help achieve population goals.
    5. In addition to hunting, provide bear-related recreational opportunities, which recognize the aesthetic value of bear.
    6. Promote education about bears and bear-related recreational activities, and how to minimize negative human-bear interactions.

The Department of Natural Resources is once again seeking help from hunters and trappers through the winter who encounter denned black bears while in the field in Michigan's Lower Peninsula. In the Northern Lower Peninsula, this effort is part of an ongoing DNR program to annually radio-collar a sample of female bears. Bears are also becoming more common in the Southern Lower Peninsula and biologists are interested in learning more about their movements and habitat associations.

After locating a denned bear, DNR biologists will determine if the animal is a good candidate for radio-collaring. Bears that are selected will be sedated by a biologist and fitted with a radio-tracking collar and ear tags. Hair samples will be taken for DNA analysis and a small non-functional tooth will be collected to determine the bear's age. Upon completion of the short procedure, biologists will carefully return the bear to their den where it will sleep through the remainder of the winter months.

People who encounter bear dens are asked to record the location, with a GPS unit if possible, and contact Mark Boersen at the DNR Roscommon Operations Center at 989-275-5151 for bears in the Northern Lower Peninsula; or Dwayne Etter at 517-373-9358, ext. 256, for bears in the southern Lower Peninsula. The public is reminded that it is illegal to disturb a bear den or disturb, harm, or molest a bear in its den.

Written By: Mike Girolami, President of WorkWear1, http://www.workwear1.com/, a Local Distributor of Carhartt Clothing, Redford MI

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