Black bears making their presence known around Sault Ste. Marie

A black bear vandalized the author's fence recently – on its way to the bird feeder, it appears.

Black bears have been making their presence known in my little town this summer. Whether it’s because of a late start to the growing season limiting their food or an abundance of younger bears displaced from their mothers this year, or both, they have been showing themselves all over the place.

In spite of hearing stories of bears raiding garbage cans and seeing photos fellow residents had been taking of bears around town, one morning when my wife sent me a photo of our damaged picket fence – two slats had been pulled loose – I immediately thought it to be the work of vandals in our neighborhood.

I asked my wife to call the police, figuring the vandals may have caused damage elsewhere, too, but the more I looked at the photo, the more I wasn’t convinced about who or what might have done it.

The investigating officer thought the same thing. He found a tuft of black fur on the fence and concluded that our vandal was Ursidae, not Hominidae. My wife said the officer figured the bear was going after our bird feeder, which should have been brought in long ago anyway.

I asked her to hold on to the fur because it would make a good photo to go with a blog, but she said the fur was dropped during the investigation and all she could find was one hair that she graciously taped to the refrigerator for me. I asked if there were tracks, and she said the police couldn’t find any.

So, when I got home, I surveyed the damage and crawled on my hands and knees by the fence to try to find the tuft of fur. That’s when I noticed that, yes, there was a bear track. And another. And another. There were several tracks along the fence line. I guess the bear was hunting for food and smelled some delicious sunflower seeds and decided to break in. The tracks looked fairly small, so maybe when the bear broke the fence slats, it became afraid and ran off.

The next day, the local paper’s police report said the case had been closed. I suppose the bear can rest easy for now, knowing that it isn’t being pursued by the authorities, but I have a feeling it may be questioned further by someone this fall.

Good luck if you have a bear permit!

Categories: Michigan – Tom Pink

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