MI: Hunter attacked by bear in U.P.

Lansing – An early season bear hunt turned into a terrifying
encounter for a 49-year-old hunter from Shepherd who was attacked
in his treestand by a 220-pound female black bear.

According to DNR officials, the attack occurred Sept. 11 in
Mackinac County, west of the village of Trout Lake. The man, who
wishes to remain anonymous, was hunting from a treestand about 10
to 12 feet high. The sow and three cubs approached the hunter’s
bait site and the sow climbed the tree and clawed at the hunter,
according to a DNR report. The hunter kicked the bear, which
climbed down the tree. But when the sow decided to climb back up
and claw at the hunter, he shot the bear in self-defense, according
to the DNR.

The hunter was treated for non-life-threatening injuries to his
legs at a local hospital.

“It was another situation of a hunter (encountering) a sow with
cubs,” said Adam Bump, DNR bear specialist. “A sow will protect her
cubs if she feels threatened.”

Although rare, black bear attacks on humans are not unheard of in
Michigan. Bump said there have been five attacks in the past five
or six years.

“We’ve had about one a year for the past few years,” Bump told
Michigan Outdoor News.

Last year, Chad Fortune, of Walloon Lake, was bowhunting for deer
in Bear Creek Township when he said he fought off a female black
bear that climbed into his treestand.

The bruin eventually left the area, but not before Fortune received
lacerations to his leg, arm, and shoulder.

In 2008, Tim Saxwold was walking his dog on his own property in
Marquette County when he realized they had gotten between a sow and
her cubs. The sow attacked Saxwold, who reportedly received
injuries to his hand and arm before his dog attacked the bear and
diverted her attention away from Saxwold.

“There have been three treestand situations with bears in recent
years, and two people walking dogs who got between a sow and her
cubs,” Bump said. “All the injuries were scratches and cuts and
stuff like that – nothing life-threatening.

Bump said he doesn’t believe there’s been an increase in the number
of bear attacks in Michigan, and pointed out that all of the recent
incidents involved sows with cubs.

“A lot of these incidents are occurring in areas that are not any
more populated with bears than they were in the past. I’m really
not sure why this is happening,” he said. “I don’t get a feeling
that there has been a dramatic increase (in bear attacks). They all
tend to be related to sows with cubs.”

Bump said Michigan has an estimated population of 10,000 to 11,000
adult bears and another 2,000 to 3,000 cubs. About 90 percent of
those animals live in the Upper Peninsula, with the highest
concentrations generally found in the western U.P.

Bump said the cubs that were with the sow that was killed in the
recent attack in Mackinac County should survive.

Cubs are born in early January and weigh around 10 pounds when they
emerge from their dens in the spring.

“Generally, what we’ve found – and we’ve done some placement of
orphaned cubs (with surrogate mothers) – is that pretty much after
July 1 cubs will make it on their own; they’ll be OK,” Bump

The best defense against a bear attack is to avoid getting into a
situation of facing a sow with cubs. If traveling in bear country
make enough noise to alert bears in the area of your

If you encounter a sow with cubs, Bump said the best thing to do is
to try to back away and give them room.

“Try to not aggravate the bear and not to be aggressive,” he said.
“Try backing away and talk firmly, but don’t run.

“They’re not trying to prey on you; they’re just letting you know
that they don’t want you in the area around their cubs.”

To learn more about black bears in Michigan, visit the DNR website
at www.michigan.gov/bear.

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