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Posted on Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 8:29 p.m.

Black bear sighting confirmed near Dexter

By Ben Freed

The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department has confirmed that there is at least one black bear in Washtenaw County. The confirmed sighting was in Webster Township in the area of Mast and Huron River Drive.

This confirmation comes after three bear sightings on Saturday, two at Hudson Mills Metropark, and one at a home in a subdivision just across Dexter-Pinckney Road from the park.


This is the bear sighted first at Hudson Mills Metropark and then in Webster Township. If you see the bear, call 911 immediately.

Picture Courtesy Washtenaw Sherriff's Office

According to the Sherriff’s office, the bear that has been sighted is believed to be a cub, leading the Department of Natural Resrources to believe that the mother may be in the area as well.

Scott Koch was bringing some shrubs to the compost pile behind his house Saturday evening when movement in the woods caught his eye. Living across the street from Hudson Mills Metropark, Koch has seen his share of foxes, mink, and other animals, but he said he could tell this was different.

“I had to take two or three takes to figure out what it was,” Koch said. “It wasn’t hurting anybody and it was kind of a cute bear.”

According to Koch, the bear started heading to his neighbor’s house, but was startled by something and climbed up a tree in his yard.

Lynn Koch, Scott’s wife, called 911 and two Sherriff’s deputies responded to the call. The deputies were unable locate the bear and were unable to confirm the sighting.

However, a new sighting Tuesday - accompanied by photographs - was confirmed.

According to Koch, the bear is about 4 feet long, but appeared to reach about 6 feet when it stood on its hind legs.

The Sherriff’s office is advising residents to secure all trash in order not to attract the bears, and reminds residents that hunting black bears is illegal in this area. Residents are instructed to not attempt to capture the bear.

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.


Gabriel Heiss

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

Yeah, why was there no mention of the black bear found in Manchester a few years ago? I'm guessing this is her cub and YES, if this cub is 4-6' long, then it wouldn't need to be near the mother anymore. It's a juvenile, perhaps striking out on its own. I've been following stories of bears and other wildlife reclaiming South Michigan for years. There was a black bear killed on a freeway near Flint six or so years ago, bears have been spotted in Grand Ledge near Lansing, then the one in Manchester(wasn't it supposed to be radio collared?), and now Dexter. There were otter tracks found on the Huron in Dexter a couple winters ago. The DNR told me that they currently live in tributaries in Waterloo(near Chelsea) even though ten years ago the same department told me they haven't been on the Huron in 100 years. Several locals have told me they've seen bobcat around Tecumseh and as close as Ford Lake, though my books shows a population gap between Ohio and mid Michigan. I've also been following stories of Michigan mountain lions ever since they found evidence in the UP and LP near Sleeping Bear Dunes. If you go to (spare me the MILF jokes please), now EVERY county in MI has puma or black panther sightings. Oh, and what ever happened to the Manchester panther?


Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : midnight

There is no way a cub would be sighted before first seeing the moma bear. Hoax?


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:33 p.m.

I believe in the God-given right to arm bears!!!


Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 2:58 p.m.

Personally, I support the right to Arm Bears!


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:19 p.m.

well my early evening walks a hudson mills are all done


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:34 p.m.

Don't be so afraid. Black Bears aren't a threat. Now some of those big brownies, they might just think of you as lunch, but not the blacks.

Boo Radley

Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 10:40 p.m.

Since black bears are not a threat to people, and are more like giant racoons than anything else ... I think the possible chance to see one is the best reason to visit Hudson Mills and take a walk that has come along in a long time.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:07 p.m.

Daaaaaaaaaaaaa Bears!

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

He can sleep till noon but before its dark, He'll have every picnic basket thats in Jellystone park.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:36 p.m.

!@#$ Mr. Ranger, let him find his own pic-a-nic basket!


Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 3:25 p.m.

Hey Yogi! Don't let the ranger catch you with that picnic basket or else he will have a fit and send you to the other other side of the park.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.

Awsome! I just wanted to thank all the "Jack Hannahs" out there, for properly informing me on how to treat a Bear!

Elizabeth C

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 6:28 p.m.

Pretty obvious really - just Sasquatch in disguise.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

Wait, we CAN harrass the black bear if it doesn't have a long form birth certicate, right?


Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 3:25 p.m.

Is he from Arizona? They might ask him for his green card.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 6:34 p.m.

Exactly! They'd never ask if it were a POLAR bear!

Buster W.

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

Does anyone else find it odd that the Koch's didn't see the bear climb down the tree in their yard? Just saying.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:37 p.m.

they climb down pretty quick when the threat is gone. Raccoons do the same.

Eric Miller

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 4:43 p.m.

Perhaps this little bear is why I was passed this morning by the Washtenaw Sheriff's armored personnel vehicle and a large Sheriff truck and trailer, heading west on Stadium at aroun 8AM.

Bertha Venation

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 4:39 p.m.

QUICK! I saw him in a Studebaker with a pig and a frog headed east on Washtenaw Avenue!!

Bertha Venation

Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

@jins. Don't know what you're talking about. I was referring to the Muppets.


Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

Aren't you thinking Badger instead of pig? There might be a toad involved in this one as well.

Danielle Lorey

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

The reason why you are to call 911 is one, for safety. Seriously, they are capable are harm. But, secondly, the DNR is tracking them. To see where they are, where the dens are, etc. So, there really is no reason not to call. It is beneficial all around, for safety and the bears.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

So many bear experts here today, why am I not surprised?

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

Mosquito's have killed way more people in Michigan (think West Nile Virus) in the last 10 years than Black Bears have in 100 years.

Elizabeth C

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

So mosquitoes AND bears are to be avoided then...

Knobby Kabushka

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 3:34 p.m.

The bear was seen at or around Hudson Mills Metropark, maybe he's looking for Tiger Woods so they can go golfing together...

Elaine F. Owsley

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

That's great!! But poor bear, he/she must be really scared. Last night our dog was really interested in something in the thicket at the edge of our property - we are about a mile and a quarter east of the Mast/Huron River intersection. Fortunately, she has the Invisible Fence to keep her from getting too close.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:19 p.m.

A few problems with this article. Yes, baby bear is cute. But we need to be reminded that if baby bear is touched in any way, there is something much larger looming in the distance. Mama Bear. These mamas are one tough cookies and I hate to say it, I don't want to be around when she finds out her baby is harmed. Now for the other problem. Where there is one, there is many. Remember we are encroaching on their turf, not ours. They are hungry and we have pretty much ended their natural order of things. Please, as Yogi Bears Ranger has said many times, do not feed the bears and stay away from them. They are not stuffed with fluff and full of fun. Good article but it needs to remind its readers about the dangers. So, where is papa by the way? He is one I do not want to meet either. Think I will stay away from Hudson Mills for a while.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 3:46 p.m.

papa , who would happily eat the cub, is probably the reason it ( and its mother??) have vacated the area where the male got the ball rolling.

Elizabeth Nelson

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

I agree with Top Cat... one minute we're encouraging our children to play outside and appreciate nature, the next minute we're jumping up and down telling them to avoid cute little fuzzy baby bears. Where's the sense of fun and adventure?! We should be putting out pots of honey, see if we can re-create some classic scenes from Winnie-the-Pooh.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 5:12 p.m.

Ahhhh, yes... I remember the scene where Christopher Robin gets mauled by an angry mama bear just like it was yesterday...


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 1:42 p.m.

Back a year or two ago, a male bear was caught on a trail camera in the Manchester/Chelsea area, and this spring a female and a cub were spotted at DuRussels potatoe farm. They are known for traveling up to 150 miles to find new homes/breeding grounds. It was only a matter of time before they inhabbited this area. If you spot one on your property you can contact Mr. Ettinger with the DNR @ 1-517-641-4903. They will set a trap, and if caught, they will take nail and hair samples from the bear and release him/her. The bears have been here for a couple years now, we need to learn to live with them. Be cautious, DO NOT FEED, and please place garbage in proper containers. Hate to hear of an injury to human or bear due to the stupidity of us the humans.


Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

I will quibble a bit as follows: "stupid humans" are not stupid. Because our population is mostly urbanized and most people are unfamiliar with - anything "wild" - they will do things which endanger themselves and the wild things they come in contact with. My daughter was guiding a group of teens through Yosemite a few years ago: she had to keep people from walking up right to the edge of a cliff which was hundreds of feet high. Really - they got all their knowledge of Nature through TV programs and thought this was "done all the time." (Daughter is a Natural Science grad of U of M, is certified as first-responder in wilderness rescue.)


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:21 p.m.

We were up north for a few weeks and had to learn how to work safe bear garbage cans. Like Racoons, these bears are hungry too. Now I know where papa bear is.

Mr. Ed

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 1:36 p.m.

I was really hoping for just the bear facts. Do we know the law Barney Fife was using.


Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

Barney Fife was using the Universal Law of I Think I Know the Law And Will Enforce It No Matter How Mistaken I Am. – That's "universal" in the sense that all Barney Fife Types know it and refer to it daily.

Jack Gladney

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.

Holy cow! The bear has lost a lot of weight since he was depicted in the original story: <a href=""></a> It may be a good idea to alert Stephen Colbert to the existence of a bear in the state of Michigan, given that he sees bears as the greatest threat to America. It could also bring some free publicity to the village. Please Lord in Heaven, keep us safe from this new threat to our way of life.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 12:32 p.m.

As only one bear has been spotted multiple times is it possible that this was a &quot;pet&quot; that some fool released and &quot;mom&quot; is not around?


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

clownfish, the bears have been spotted in/around M52 and Grass Lake Road now for a couple years.

Top Cat

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 12:24 p.m.

&quot;Residents are instructed to not attempt to capture the bear.&quot; Rats ! Some people take the fun out of everything.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

Go on, @TopCat! Pounce on that ol' ba'r an' wrassle him into submission! ;^)

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:39 a.m.

What is the big deal? Black bears are shy creatures of opportunity! Calling 911 to report a bear is a complete waste of resources!!! My goodness people, use your heads! If you want to report wildlife, call the DNR for advice. On a side note, it is illegal to shoot any bear within Washtenaw county with out a license. So, don't go thinking you can just start blowing way bears because you feel &quot;threatened&quot;. Simple ways to discourage bears from calling upon you: 1. Lock your trash cans or store them in the garage. 2. Don't leave garbage outside. 3. Yell and holler at an approaching bear, 9 times out 10 they'll run the other way. Common sense needs to prevail here.

Not from around here

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 4:48 p.m.

Actually Bear is pretty tasty, especially one thats had a strict diet of neighborhood cats

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

It is illegal for people to jump of highway overpasses... I hope that this didn't give you nay ideas, jns131.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:23 p.m.

Now you have people interested in bear hunting. Without a license? O my goodness. You are one sick person to go and mention this. I really hope people do not go and start shooting bears. What has this world come to?


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:35 a.m.

Cool ! I hope I can draw a Bear tag this year


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:18 a.m.

Folks keep invading all of their territory -- our furry friends have to live somewhere. I hope folks just use some common sense when seeing it -- leave it alone and it most likely will leave you alone.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:30 p.m.

The whole point of this story is that a lot of wildlife are adapting, since their habitat is gone. They are returning and learning to live in suburban woodland patches and parks. There didn't use to be coyote, fox, wild turkey or bear around in the lower peninsula. It has been just in the last couple of decades that they have begun to return and grow in numbers once again.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:12 a.m.

Bear, it's what's for dinner.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:28 p.m.

get off!


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 10:43 a.m.

I can BARELY contain my excitement.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 10:51 a.m.

Don't you mean BEARLY ?


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 9:40 a.m.

It's my hope everyone just leaves this rare gem alone. It's chances of survival are already diminished here in traffic-heavy SE Michigan, so spooking it by trying to sight or photograph it will probably only lead to unintended consequences. If it's fortunate, it'll realize the mistake it's made seeking territory here and will return to a more remote area of the state. Good-luck and godspeed, Mr(s). Bear!

Not from around here

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

Actually its chances of survival are pretty good down here, maybe better than up north-Dense woods with nice bicycle paths to walk on, cooler winters, less hunting and tons of tasty cats and little yappy dogs. Plus trash bins galore. Look how well the coyote has done here.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:24 p.m.

Finally, someone here who makes sense. I agree with this poster.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 7:42 a.m.

Note to author; It's spelled Pinckney .... not ..... Pinkney

Tony Dearing

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 9:57 a.m.

Thanks. That's been corrected.

Ryan Munson

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 3:44 a.m.

Is this seriously the top posted story on This is good news to see bear down here (I hope they migrate back).


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:19 a.m.

This is not a newspaper where you have a headline across the front page. Stories are posted most of the time as they are completed. Look at the times of posted stories.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 3:32 a.m.

Vette96drv, There are two sides to every story. I would love to see your video on You Tube, and see if you were indeed harassing the black bear. I can only imagine you were for an officer to : &quot;threatened to write us a ticket for harassing wildlife for trying to get a photo&quot;. Use common sense, the bear is a wild animal, and if cornered and feeling threatened, it may actual attack you in self defense. Sounds to me like the officer was actually protecting you!


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 4:12 a.m.

BBC, I think you hit the nail right on it's head . Common Sense, lack of. It won't be long before we here about someone getting hurt, because they cornered a wild bear, to get a picture. Good thing mother bear didn't show up, after harrassing her cub. Now that would be an interesting video to see. Help Barney Fife, save me!


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 3:07 a.m.

This confirms my suspicions. I saw it cross from west to east across Mast road about a half mile north of the bridge at the Huron River around the end of March. At first I thought it might be a wolverine because of its gait but it looked bigger and figured it was more than likely a bear.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:26 p.m.

There was a wolverine sighting not more than 3 years ago, in West Branch and a few years before that about 90 miles north of Detroit. Also one was spotted around 1998-2000 in Tawas, so, they've been around.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

Everyone knows that Wolverines haven't lived (or played good football) here in years!!! LOL!


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:34 a.m.

Next time you see the bear, if you want even better video, run up to the bear and poke it with a stick. Make sure you keep that camera rolling!


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:31 a.m.

Mr. Ranger's not gonna like this Yogi.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

Hey, Boo-boo, let Mr. Ranger find his own pick-a-nic basket! Sheesh! What a grouch!


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

Hey boo boo! Looks like the picnickers are taking their baskets home with them!

Elizabeth Nelson

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:30 a.m.

I'm not convinced that's a bear... could be a sneaky fox in a bear costume. Vette96drvr and others in that neighborhood should chase that animal down, get more close-up photos and video (particularly around the jawline, where costume seams would be most visible)


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:19 a.m.

Just don't feed them, the last ting anyone needs is a black bear on the deck every night looking for food. Raccoons are annoying chipmunks are a pain but bears can be dangerous.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 1:42 a.m.

This is the same bear I just took photos of not 90 minutes ago in my nephews back yard. He lives on Mast Rd at the Brass Creek subdivision. Great to see some finally made it this far south. Lansing was the next closest I had heard of (about 4-5 years ago). Don't bother calling 911, my nephew did. The local &quot;Barney Fife&quot; Dexter graduate deputy threatened to write us a ticket for harrasing wildlife for trying to get a photo. Get a life M.M. I got photos and video!


Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 10:28 p.m.

&quot;You might be a redneck if you have ever had the local deputy tell you to leave the bear alone.&quot; Get a life and respect the local law enforcement.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

Nice comment on the deputy - not sure is this is what you meant but do you consider all Dexter graduates to be &quot;Barney Fifes&quot;?


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:46 a.m.

Good job to Barney Fife. What was your nephew thing of, taking a picture of a WILD bear? Sounds like your nephew must also be a Dexter gradute, since you live on Mast Rd near Bass Creek. Just saying... Bears are very timid animals and will generally run away. Just leave them alone.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 1:56 a.m.

Take a qualude and leave the bear alone. Barney Fife was right.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 1:35 a.m.

Call 911 and say what? Do not attempt to capture the bear? Is this a joke?


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 1:29 a.m.

This is great news, thank you Ben! I have my panniers all packed up and will be staying in the woods for three nights hoping to get a sighting of this great beast. My only weapons are my Nikon SLR and a twelve inch bowie knife. The moon is full now - time to go. I will keep you updated upon my return from the wild. Wish me luck,


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:17 p.m.

The wild? You're kidding, right? Well, good luck with that there B'ar, Daniel Boone.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:40 a.m.

Best of luck! I might just have to join you!


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 1:25 a.m.

Great! I hope the village doesn't levy a Bear Tax to pay for 24 hour Bear Patrol.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:15 p.m.

No, they bearly notice 'em.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 5:03 p.m.

Nope, just to cover the Bear Necessities. (Sorry, I just couldn't resist...)

Heather Harmon

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 1:23 a.m.

Cool beans! Or should I say, cool bears! I've only seen one juvenile black bear in the LP before. It's great to know that awesome critters live nearby! I wish this bear and the potential others safety and happy foraging!


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 1:17 a.m.

How do we know this is the same bear that was at Hudson Mills, since that sighting was unconfirmed? That being said, now we can finally confirm what bears do in the woods in Washtenaw County!


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 12:49 a.m.

Call 911? Really? Um..., why? Should I call 911 if I see a raccoon as well, or perhaps if it snows?


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 12:50 p.m.

@Hallmark-what exactly do you want the sheriff's dept to do when they show up? Look at the bear and say &quot;yep you're right, its a bear&quot; There have been only 3 fatal Black bear attacked in Michigan EVER and the last one was in 1979 in the UP if I recall correctly. Black bears are much more scavenger than hunter. @kathryn-A black bear that size is doubtfully with momma still. It is likely a juvenile male that has been kicked out of his home range by other bigger males so he had to go roaming to find a new home where he will not be constantly harrassed. Not to mention that if Momma was still around there would likley be pics of her too. Like I posted in the other article, between years of hunting, visiting my two properties up north and thousands of miles of hiking in the Smokey Mountains and other areas down south, I have run across Black Bears close to 50 times in the wild. I have never been scared or threatened by them and the worse that has happened was one looked at me curiously from about 60 yards away as I hiked by. Best thing to do is secure your trash. Dont worry about your pets, unless you have a paralyzed Shitzu laying in the back yard. Keep an eye on your kids, but you should be doing that anyways. Black bear are not grizzlies and are about 180 deg polar opposite in their behavior and demeanor.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 11:50 a.m.

This young bear may be no threat, but where's Mom? A mother bear can be a real threat, especially when people are not familiar with the risks.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:33 a.m.

Hide your wives, hide your children, but no need to call 911.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:08 a.m.

Seriously, a black bear is not a life threatening emergency. Call the DNR or call the police (regular number) if you need to, but there was no reason to call 911.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:06 a.m.

ummmm, I think there is a big difference from seeing a raccoon in your neighbor's yard versus a bear in this part of Michigan. I would want some authorities coming out if it was in my neighborhood full of kids and pets.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 12:44 a.m.

Perhaps this lone bear will help reduce the feral hog population.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:14 p.m.

I don't think bears &amp; hogs are competitors or adversaries. But don't underestimate the force of hogs. They can be vicious and are no joke when they attack.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 12:42 a.m.

Will the DNR try to capture and relocate the bears?


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

No, according to Mr. Ettinger with the DNR that we delt with a couple years ago they will only trap, take hair and nail samples, tag and release. You can contact him at 1-517-641-4903


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 12:38 a.m.

Did he see Goldilocks too ? Good Day