Popular Upper Peninsula Hiking Destination Sees Spike in Bear Activity
As Michiganders still make their way to some of the state's most beautiful destinations, there is one thing to be on alert about...and it's not just COVID...or mosquitoes...or those damn murder hornets we heard so much about. No, no, it's bears!
Bears in Michigan
According to the Michigan DNR, the only wild bears you are likely to encounter in Michigan are black bears. Despite other color variations, they say they are mostly identified by their, you guessed it, black or very dark brown fur.
Michigan.gov says there are between 15,000 to 19,000 black bears in Michigan with about 90% living in the Upper Peninsula and the other 10% mainly being found in the northern Lower Peninsula...sometimes wandering their way further south from there.
"Today, Michigan's only bear species is protected by law and managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)," says Michigan.gov.
Michigan Black Bears at Porcupine Mountains
MLive reports that at the Porcupine Mountains, a smaller (compared to regular mountains) group of mountains just outside of Ontonagon in the Upper Peninsula, officials are reminding people to be on the lookout for black bears.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park manager, Mike Knack, told MLive that there have been increased sightings of the bears, specifically at Union Bay campground at the park and a neighboring, privately-owned campground.
Knack also told MLive, on average "the Porkies" see between 12 and 30 bears but this summer, they believe dry conditions this summer, causing bears to seek food resources outside of their wild berries, have cause over 30 bears to make their way to campsites.
Bear Safety Tips
Now, BEAR in mind, black bears are typically known to scurry away when they see or hear you. Though, they do raid campsites when they are in search of food that is not properly secured.
That's why with this recent increase in some bears taking a page from Yogi's book, MLive reports park staff has put out signs reminding visitors how to correctly store their food, coolers, trash and more and will be giving citations to those who violate food storage rules.
Should you actually encounter a bear that won't back down on your camping trip, Knack has a few recommendations like:
- Always hike with at least one other person, the extra noise helps scare bears away. (A tip for anyone who chooses to hike the Porcupine Mountains)
- "[Make] yourself appear as large and as loud as possible, waiving your hands in the air and shouting.
- "If the bear still doesn’t move, then it’s time to slowly back away and leave the area."
Knack also told MLive that bear sprays or noisemakers like bells usually are not necessary.
All in all, just be smart and be sure to keep your food, supplies and other items that may be enticing to bears secure!
Porcupine Mountains are definitely a gorgeously "Pure Michigan" sight: here's some others that can make some pretty cool phone backgrounds!