Michigan has an estimated black bear population of 8,000 to 10,000 bears, with 90 percent of the population in the Upper Peninsula.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds the public that black bears are generally fearful of humans and will usually leave if they become aware that people are present. Bear attacks on human beings are highly unusual and in most cases occur because a sow is protecting her cubs.
Here are some important facts to remember when you are in an area where bears may be present:
- To avoid surprising bears, travel in small groups and make noise.
- If you encounter a bear, stand your ground and then slowly back away. Do not turn away. Do not show fear and run. Do not play dead.
- Make yourself look bigger and talk to the bear in a stern voice.
- Fight back if actually attacked with a backpack, stick, or bare hands.
- Carry pepper spray, which has been shown to be effective in fending off bear attacks.
For additional information on living with bears, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/bear.
DNR: Living With Bears