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Posted on Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

1st bear-sighting reports at Hudson Mills Metropark near Dexter are unconfirmed so far

By Ben Freed

Two unconfirmed black bear sightings were reported to park authorities at Hudson Mills Metropark near Dexter on Saturday.

According to park superintendent Kim Jarvis, the calls came in at 7:40 and 7:42 on Saturday morning, and a police officer dispatched to the West River Trail was unable to locate a bear.


Jarvis added that the park naturalist went to the scene on Sunday to look for scat, scratch marks, or any other signs of a bear’s presence, but the search turned up empty.

“This is the first bear sighting that has ever been reported at Hudson Mills Metropark,” Jarvis said.

Tim Paine, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources representative, said black bear sightings typically happen in Southern Michigan in the spring, when young males are kicked out of their ‘home’ areas by older or larger males. He said that if a bear had been sighted, it was most likely an adolescent.

“Often these are young males who are just striking out looking for new territory,” Paine said. “Most likely they’re just curious and moving around, scrounging for food here and there.

"Sometimes they wander around for a long, long time looking for a partner, because they aren’t likely to find one down here.”

Paine said that young male black bears, like most wildlife in Southeastern Michigan, are not aggressive or likely to attack humans.

“They are mostly in explore mode,” he said. “They’re trying to figure out where to spend their time and where to find food. The most trouble they’re likely to get in is if they stumble upon someone’s garden.”

According a Bear Management Program on the Department of Natural Resources website, in 2009, over 85 percent of Michigan's approximately 19,000 bears lived in the Upper Peninsula. The same report noted that the black bear population appeared to be expanding from the Northern Lower Peninsula into the Southern Lower Peninsula.

Jarvis said that because the sightings have yet to be confirmed by park staff, the Hudson Mills Park is operating as usual. As always, park visitors are urged to exercise caution when on the trails.

Ben Freed is a summer intern at You can reach him by email at or by phone at (734)-623-4674. Follow him on Twitter @BFreedInA2.



Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:24 p.m.

Don't all rush out to look but this afternoon the sheriff's office confirmed a sighting of a Black Bear - in Webster Twp in the area of Mast and Huron River Drive.

Bertha Venation

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 4:53 p.m.

How many people you reckon he'd feed? Cousin Pearl and Jethrene are comin' in from the hills.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 3:51 a.m.

Ok, just came back and re-read the headline. An unconfirmed sighting could be supported by markings, prints and other things. This alleged bear was on the west river trail, do we have any indication of the evidence on the west river trail supporting the sighting? speaking of weird sightings, I've seen republicans a the hash bash too, but doesn't report about them. They are the ones selling t-shirts and other paraphenelia to the free wheeling libearls in the crowd. These same republicans can be found exiting any major concert in the area.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

What ? I was wondering when or how someone could bring politics into this.A2 people amaze me some times


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 3:24 a.m.

It was probably some guy in a gorilla suit.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 2:37 a.m.

Why do they call it "scat" ? Why not just keep it simple and call it poop or feces ? Maybe it was that supposed black cougar/panther from 5-10 years ago !!! But really , with all the stuff going on, who gives a rats behind ? Good Day

Jack Gladney

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 1:31 a.m.

How is this sighting unconfirmed? The reporter included photographice evidence of the bear's existence. NIce work,


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 2:20 p.m.

Jack: I think the "photographic evidence" is a stock photo. (Excuse the comment if my sarcasm radar is failing me.)


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 1:13 a.m.

I love bears. Please keep us updated on these sightings. If it is true, I will camp in this park with my trusty Nikon so that I can get a chance to shoot this grizzly beast. I have been dying to see a bear up close and personal; this is my shot. Thank you and Ben for bringing this to light. I am so very excited!!


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 12:55 a.m.

There is a guy who has an enormous black dog that I've seen on the disc golf course many times.....I too thought it was a bear at first and then realized it was just the biggest dog I've ever I believe it's a Newfoundland and he's a sweetheart!


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 5:41 a.m.

I once cared for a huge black Bouvier named "Bear".

Joshua Perrin

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 12:24 a.m.

Well thats just great. you hear that?! Bears. now you're putting all of washtenaw county in jeopardy.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 12:22 a.m.

Cute animals taste better. Also, adolescent male black bears are dangerous. They typically start out following people out of curiosity. However, this behavior can shortly turn into stalking and even an attack if not confronted early in the encounter.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 12:42 p.m.

please post links to this info. There have only been 3 fatal black bear attacks in michigan with the last one being in 1979, if i recall correctly. To put the safety issue in perspective, national statistics show for every person killed by a bear, 17 are killed by spiders, 67 by dogs and 180 by bees and wasps. I'll take my chances, LOL Also IF you are ever attacked by a black bear you need to fight as hard as you can, black bears are more scavenger than hunter when it comes to food vs brown/grizzlie bears who are hunters more than scavengers (thats why with them you are supposed to play dead).

Stephen Landes

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 12:05 a.m.

bare siting? a location for skinny-dippers could be a zoning issue.......


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

I live in Manchester/Chelsea area and we have still photos of a large male black bear on one of our trail cams


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 11:58 p.m.

have you contacted the DNR with these pics? I'm sure that they would love to seen them as it would make it easier to confirm the presence of bears this far south.


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

Between Huning in Michigan for the better part of my life, visiting my property near Paradise in the UP and my property just south of Alpena and many many many miles of backpacking in NC, SC, TN etc I have had probably close to 50 "encounters" with black bears in the wild. I have NEVER once been scared of them and never once been threatened by them. They are not like Grizzlies (which is what everyone thinks). They will typically turn and run before you even know they are there. They want less to do with you than you with them. If you keep your food unaccessible to them, give em room when they are with their cubs etc you will never have a problem with them. Last I heard (which was about 5 years ago) the southern most confirmed bears in michigan were just south of Everette MI. That is a LONG haul for a bear to get from there to here with out a bunch of sightings along the way. Also the worse thing that you could do if there are bears around here would be to feed them. Like someone else posted " A fed bear is a Dead bear."


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

Evart, Michigan--Osceola County--right next door to Lake County, where another poster up above has seen them. I grew up in Lake County--never saw one growing up--but that was 30+ years ago and I am sure they have moved south to that area since then.


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

I hope all these anti hunter commentors are vegetarians. I have magazines with several articles where Black bears have broken into houses to get food because people have been feeding them and by leaving food in their garbage cans. These animals can be unpredictable and they don't belong in this heavily populated area.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 4:11 p.m.

Yup vegetarian: I keep to the moral high ground.

the other guy

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

I think someone misunderstood...with all the nice weather I think the reported 'bear sighting' was actually meant as the first 'BARE sighting' of the year at the park!


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:17 p.m.

the other guy, Good point!!!


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8 p.m.

Cool as hell. I hope he come into my backyard. He's welcome to anything I have back there. Other than my kids or dogs.

larry kramer

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 7:36 p.m.

I've walked the jogging trail numerous times--often had this erie feeling that I was being stalked--hoping it would be some fine babe--but perhaps it was a bear, or a cougar, or even a galliplop!

John B.

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:26 p.m.

Well, a cougar wouldn't be so bad, right...? P.S. A what?


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 7:12 p.m.

My family and I have a place up north between cadillac and houghton lake, we have bears in our backyard every year till the bear slob hunters start running their dogs. We see them every weekend moms with little ones to older ones. It is a great thing to see. These great animals walk the same woods you and I do all the time. If you respect them and the fact that they can hurt you, there will be no problem. The last place you get advise on the animals in this great state of ours is the DNR. These people are the most clueless group of people in the state. We need to save the state allot of money and get rid of the DNR and go with a system like Texas and other states have.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 1:05 a.m.

Not a good idea to feed bears-- any naturalist worth their salt will tell you not to feed bears, it's foolish to condition bears to look to humans for food. Your just looking for problems when you feed them.


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 9:36 p.m.

I saw a big one north of there, west of Higgins lake and north of the oil well road if you know where that is. near the Houghton Lake/Kalkaska Snowmobile trail. He was big. I put my hand in his paw print and I had room for some more fingers all the way around. My wife claims to have seen one along 75 near right where 10 connects in, but why should I believe her;)


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

I have observed one in your neck of the woods as well! Getting on the freeway in Roscommon to go further up to Grayling, accidently turned onto a side road instead of the on ramp. Best adventure I have ever had with my Husband and our children when they were little.

Tom Teague

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 7:07 p.m.

With all due respect to Cash and her recollection of the bear cub, please note that these days feeding a bear, or trying to pet a cub, or trying to get it into your car for a photo op, or any number of weird behaviors that folks exhibited around black bears when I was growing up near the Great Smokies, typically ends badly for the bear. Wildlife managers usually track down and euthanize bears who injure people even in cases where the bear was clearly provoked or even nibbling at an offered sandwich. If there is a bear at Hudson Mills, and you are fortunate enough to see it, for the bear's sake keep in mind that you are in the woods viewing wildlife and not at a petting zoo.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 10:16 a.m.

Ed, I'm a believer that people should be required to take a course before using our wonderful park system. And I'm serious. I was raised by a father who was a guide in the UP woods back in the 20s and 30s. There was no better person to teach a young girl how to respect wildlife.

Tom Teague

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 2:09 a.m.

@ERMG - I've observed the same behavior there as well and believe that many people need to be reminded that Yogi and Boo Boo are fictional characters. I would also add "parboiled in a hidden hot spring," to your list.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 1:17 a.m.

Cash wrote: "I think most people would know that Tom, but it is a good reminder." Sorry, Cash, but given the human behavior I saw in two recent trips to Yellowstone and to the Grand Tetons, I think most humans have an unconscious desire to be either bear food, gored by a buffalo, or stampeded by a moose. Good Night and Good Luck


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

Tom, For sure! And the populated areas combined with the um.....lack of knowledge and respect for wildlife, creates real problems. I found myself hoping that this "sighting" was a prank because I want the bears to be happy and free and away from annoying humans.

Tom Teague

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:32 p.m.

Cash - Actually, I enjoyed your story and appreciate your sharing it. My point was that the methods used for dealing with bear and human encounters have changed in recent years and decidedly NOT in favor of the bears.

John B.

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

A fed bear is a dead bear, so please leave them alone, as others are stating. Often, incident #1 results in ear-tagging and relocation. When they (almost inevitably, as they found food the first time) come back to that same area a second or third time, they are generally killed by the authorities. Sad, but true.


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

I think most people would know that Tom, but it is a good reminder. This cub was held at a neighbor's home and fed mostly with a baby bottle. Up there, they had good sense about wildlife. Many who lived there hunted only to eat and were very protective of the wildlife. This little cub would have died when the mom was killed so the neighbor saved it. But obviously if there are bears around SE Michigan, don't feed them large or small. This was a different place, a different time. Anyone who lived in the UP 60+ years ago probably knows what I mean. We had great respect for wildlife.


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 7 p.m.

I'm frightened very much of bears, they are not cute at all - something to have nothing at all to do with, stay away from them. I have nightmares and terrors still, 15 years later, after sleeping at a campsite in Durango, CO and having a bear come into our campsite and sniff two children sleeping out of the tent, then walking around sniffing our tents, and then finally finding the food and eating everything while we watched. It was all our fault for not tying the food up in a tree, and leaving it out under a tarp. A true miracle that no one was hurt. I shiver as I can still hear the sound of the bear breathing as it lumbered about our campsite. Hope you never come across one. Keep your food tied up.

John B.

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

" It was all our fault for not tying the food up in a tree, and leaving it out under a tarp." Correct!


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

Hard to believe people still shoot these majestic creatures for fun. Why do we sanction overtly evil acts? Tell those cruel hunters to stop!


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 12:02 a.m.

Cash-No problem with your personal decision or anything from me. I was just noting that when New Jersey completely outlawed bear hunting that they have had a bunch of problems since and even after reinstating hunting. I think at one time (and maybe still) that have the most black bear per sq mile than any other state.


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:37 p.m.

jjc.... I don't tell other people what to do. I just couldn't kill a black bear myself when given the choice of letting it live or die. I find it to be a personal decision.


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

do some research on what happened in New Jersey when they outlawed bear hunting.


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

I could never kill a bear. If I have the choice to let it live or die, I'll let it live.


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 6:41 p.m.

Ive seen black bears around Curtis and Newberry in the UP. Common sight. When I was young in Curtis, along South Manistique Lake, we helped raise a cub from a mother bear that had been killed. We fed him ice cream cones on the sly that we begged from my grandmother who lived there.! Probably not a good diet for a black bear cub but we were very young and loved feeding him and he loved eating ice cream cones. That adorable cuddly teddy bear sure grew up fast though. Great memories and I've always held a soft spot in my heart for black bears since my childhood experience.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 9:30 a.m.

CincoDeMayo, Thank you so much for reminding me of that. I was so lucky to have a childhood in the UP in a great wilderness. There is no more beautiful place in the world for me.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 5:36 a.m.

How fortunate you are to have such great memories!


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

Tom, That's okay. We need emoticons! LOL I read your post below and certainly concur that people should not feed bears. This was a baby the neighbor had saved and then let loose as soon as the cub could survive. Different place, different time. Almost like the wild frontier back then.

Tom Teague

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 7:09 p.m.

Cash - pulled a comment that I wrote with sincerity and didn't mean to sound sarcastic.

Tom Teague

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 6:37 p.m.

To quote one of my favorite books, 'A Walk in the Woods,' by Bill Bryson, as he reflects on statistics showing that bear attacks are uncommon: "That's not because the bears have signed a treaty, you know."

zip the cat

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

I walk the west river trail every morning around that time and I have never,ever seen anything that remotly comes close to the size animal they say they saw. There is a large black newfoundland dog that runs off leash in the park in the am but a bear. Sorry,I think there dreaming. Funny no one was around when they went to investagate the so called sighting.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 6:32 p.m.

Zip, I think you have solved the mystery. I ride my bike through HMMP often and see a lot of deer but nothing like a bear. I am more concerned about running into a feral pig.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 6:25 p.m.

I've seen a few bears at a dump in the UP and once had a Bear come through our campground at night...also in the UP near Grand Marais.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

One of my friends on Drummond Island looked out her slider window one morning last winter and nearly spewed coffee through her nose, for standing there on her deck was a large black bear eating from the bird feeder--literally feet away. She took some awesome pictures--he became quite a regular. When I lived in DeTour Village, I would occasionally see them crossing the road way up ahead--one used to come into town at night and feed at the dumpster of one of the local restaurants. I saw many more wolves when I lived up there though, than bears. Bears were also hit by vehicles and killed on I-75 near St. Ignace and Gaylord, several years back.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 1:15 a.m.

People did that on Drummond Island too.


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

Back in the day, toward dusk people used to park at the dump near Seney and wait for the black bears to arrive. It was an event!


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 6:22 p.m.

BTW, if the area where the bear was seen is moist or has some dirt built up, you could easily find a paw print. it seems like any park ranger would look to see if there were prints in the area the bear was seen. Black bear paw prints are pretty unique compared to any other type of animal in the area.


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

This is a feel good, feel sad story. I love wildlife and think that having bear in the County is pretty cool, but if there is a bear in the area, a lot of people will want it to go away one way or another.


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 6:12 p.m.

Anyone wanting to see the stats on black bear attacks can go to: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Unfortunately the rarity of these attacks still means there's no guarantee that one won't become the &quot;lucky winner&quot; in that lottery. As has been pointed out, this species wanders widely in search of food and territory. They do appear in human habitats and a few (males and females) have proven to be aggressive. Small children are at greater risk than teens and adults but no human can stand up to the power of these bears.


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 6:02 p.m.

I think someone just tried out their new medicine from the dispensery before these sightings.

John B.

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:17 p.m.

&quot;Metaphorically: Comedian Lynda Radner once said: Having a man in the house is like having - a bear, with furniture. It follows that having an actual bear - with furniture - is gonna be the worst case scenario. ;-) &quot; Do you mean the late, beloved Gilda Radner from Michigan?


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

Do you know how many roads a bear would have to cross to get here?I hear stories of mountain lions all the time but no one has ever found a dead one down here yet.And red foxes or coyotes arent bears


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 6:23 p.m.

Try telling that to my friend who lives just a few miles outside of Kalamazoo. He found confirmed tracks of a mountain lion near his home. (And he just sent me photos of a family of Red Foxes which took up residence in a brush pile behind his house. Large wild animals, including carnivores, have this ridiculous inability to recognize geo-political boundaries and none of them carry maps. Metaphorically: Comedian Lynda Radner once said: Having a man in the house is like having - a bear, with furniture. It follows that having an actual bear - with furniture - is gonna be the worst case scenario. ;-)

Top Cat

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 5:58 p.m.

The problem with black bears is that once they discover how plentiful and available food is, they stick around. They have been known to break into houses once they know that food is there.

Jas Dudzik

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 5:38 p.m.

Black bears are timid and very unlikely to hurt humans. If there is a possibility of them reaching this area, people should try to educate themselves so they will not be unreasonably afraid. One source worth checking is This is rather exciting; I have driven all over the Upper Peninsula without seeing a single one except at the bear ranch there!


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 5:31 p.m.

Funny, I've been an outdoorsman since age 10 and in the 56 years I've been exploring Michigan's woods: I've never seen a bear. Have seen them in Canada though. BTW: the real (but not really common) wildlife hazard at Hudson Mills and even Mathei Botanical Gardens is the Massassauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus Catenatus). These snakes exist in marshy habitat, regardless of how &quot;tame&quot; the surrounding parkland looks. They do venture onto grassy areas and are not easy to spot.

John B.

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

I've seen black bears repeatedly farther North in the Lower Peninsula, even walking along the roadside (as cars passed by) on more than one occasion. I'm amazed you haven't seen any in 56 years. Might have been the gunfire that kept them away? That's how they get to be old bears....

John of Saline

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

I saw a little rattler sunning itself just a hundred yards or so from the start of a trail at Matthai.


Mon, Jun 13, 2011 : 6:16 p.m.

I've seen bears in Lake County and Roscommon County. It is quite a sight to see.