The MRN changes course, buries the bear | Local news

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TRAVERSE CITY – He was the star of social media chats, a widely traveled black bear with a penchant for birdseed and a compelling desire to be close to Traverse City.

Too close, ultimately, at least for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Now he’s buried in what Holly Vaughn, the agency’s outreach and engagement manager, described as an undisclosed location.

“After much deliberation, it was decided that in order to avoid further offending some residents by showing off parts of the bear (or dishonoring its remains), and to avoid perpetuating negative feelings and a painful memory for residents of Traverse City, the DNR retained possession and the skin and skull were not exposed, ”she said in an email, adding that the bear was left whole before the burial.

The DNR initially weighed whether to donate the bear’s skin and skull for display at a nature education center or tribal facility, Vaughn previously said.

For Donna Miller, that justification for burying the animal instead doesn’t hold up, she said. She is appalled at the way the DNR has treated the bear and believes it would be better off alive and in captivity than dead and buried, she said. Or better yet, people could have learned to live with him.

“I would have preferred to replace 100 broken feeders rather than kill it,” she said.

Miller, who lives just outside Traverse City, was one of several locals who spotted the bruin outside his house. She was delighted to see him play and handle things in a “wonderful way”.

“I thought it was fantastic, and if they had had to move it they could have put it on a bear ranch,” she said, adding that she even reached out to one in the upper peninsula.

She is skeptical of the DNR’s reasoning that the bear, at her age, would have done badly in captivity, but ultimately didn’t know it, she said.

She also did not fully accept the logic that the bear had become too fearless with humans and inevitably ended up in a confrontation with one of them – the bear ran as soon as she did. noise and opened the door to chase him away, and he returned a little while after, she said.

Terry Carrithers, another resident of Traverse City, said she was happy that MNR finally decided to bury the bear. But she too was disappointed with the agency’s handling of the situation and feels it owes the public an apology.

“This bear was only taken 91 miles away, so it was obviously going to find its way back to Traverse City, I think, and I just think they could have put a little more effort into trying to move it.” , she said. .

Bears that lose their fear of humans have one name among wildlife biologists: problem bears. The saying “a fed bear is a dead bear” refers to the fact that bears accustomed to humans can become defensive or territorial, leading to attacks on humans that make their slaughter inevitable.

Euthanasia was a last resort when the DNR captured the bear in April, luring it into a living trap with its favorite snack, as previously reported. Biologists tagged him and attached a radio collar, removed a tooth, and took more statistics on the then 400-pound bear before moving him to a location near Alpena.

{span} The fields and woods north of Hillman are a great place for a large creature looking to avoid people.

It is sparsely populated and just east of thousands of acres of public forest, including Pigeon River Country with its wooded hills and river valleys where some 1,200 elk live. {/ span}

{span} This is where the DNR pilots picked up the bear’s signal before it traced its old playground, making the trip in a few weeks and even covering 70 miles in two days. He went south to another wild place – the Manistee River near Brethren and ultimately Copemish – before biologists picked up a signal of his collar’s death. {/ span}

Instead of finding a dead bear, they found a broken collar at the base of a tree, presumably where the bear broke it while scratching against the trunk.

Further bear mischief and a few sightings raised suspicions the bear was back in the Traverse City area, and a 911 Grand Traverse dispatcher whose bear destroyed the crabapple while searching for food offered. his garden for another living trap.

When the bear fell into the trap – again – MNR officials concluded that it would cause the same problems if they moved it, even to the Upper Peninsula as previously reported. And his growing daring and reliance on food provided by humans meant he posed an unacceptable threat to humans.

Miller said the DNR’s behavior around the second capture struck him as dishonest.

“They were asking the public to help capture him, they weren’t saying the plan was to kill him, and then when they did they said, ‘OK, we’ll keep the skull and the fur to help education, ”she said.

Subsequent calls to Vaughn were not returned on Friday, and a message with DNR biologist Steve Griffith was not returned on Friday.

Miller agreed that she hopes people learn to take steps to avoid attracting bears if one is in the neighborhood. The Traverse City bear, however, made it difficult by not staying in one spot for too long.

But she was adamant in not blaming him for his predilection for human food.

“Obviously he’s not afraid of people anymore, which was his mistake, but it’s not the bear’s fault,” she said.


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