TRAVERSE CITY — In the end, the temptation of birdseed and suet was more than he could bear.
That’s what finally convinced a black bear to nose his way into a trap set in Garfield Township near Oryana West and Creekside Condominiums, state Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Steve Griffith said. He’s reasonably certain it’s the same one spotted by the Meijer near Division and Fourteenth streets.
If true, that bear steered clear of other attempts to trap and relocate him, with the DNR trying and failing in fall 2020 with sweets as bait.
“Finally, finally finally,” Griffith said.
The animal was raiding bird feeders by the condos and tearing down crab apple trees to feast on the fruits, Griffith said. Most of the residents had brought in their bird feeders and the trap was strategically positioned.
“We had the trap in a good kind of spot he was using multiple times as far as traveling around in that Kids Creek corridor and finally crawled in there and we got him,” he said.
Switching to the bear’s preferred food seems to have done the trick, Griffith said. The trap sprung sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
Griffith figured the bear weighs 350 to 400 pounds — possibly more. Crews anesthetized the creature and pulled a tooth so his age can be determined later in a lab. He was fitted with a radio collar and moved a few hours away to an undisclosed spot in the Lower Peninsula.
Black bears, the only bear species native to Michigan, are generally very shy, according to the DNR. Griffith agreed they’ll typically run from people and only seldomly attack, usually if cornered.
Chances for a bad encounter between a bear and humans increase if the animal associates people with food and loses its fear of humans, Griffith said. That’s why the bear had to be moved, as habituated bears can become problem bears that often have to be euthanized.
“We’re hoping that’s not the case,” he said.
Griffith said there’s a small chance the bear could return to Traverse City, although most typically won’t venture farther than 50 miles — the bear’s new home is well past that distance.
If the animal is the one that has been burglarizing bird feeders, he’s been the subject of much chatter on social media, as previously reported. Several residents reported knocked-down feeders or other ursine antics in the fall and again in the spring, each one spurring a string of replies from neighbors with similar experiences.
It’s a reminder that even in town, Traverse City is bear country, Griffith said. He urged people to keep bird feeders inside except for colder months — pet food and trash cans could be tempting as well, according to the Be Bear Aware Campaign.
Be aware in the woods as well, Griffith said, especially when walking dogs. They’ve been spotted in the forests southeast of town, including the Brown Bridge Quiet Area, and bears might take a swipe at a charging canine.
Good luck, Ursus americanus. After one winter, he had just bear-ly settled in.