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Bears: One species native to Michigan

NORTHERN MICHIGAN – Although there are several dozen bear species across the planet, just one is native to Michigan: Black bears.

However, Black Bears can have other fur colors besides just black. Brown, cinnamon and blonde are examples of other black bear fur colors you might see.  

Black bears likely will enter their winter dens by December, but timing can vary depending on food availability. They may start entering dens in early October, with females typically entering dens earlier than males. Prior to winter, bears spend months foraging for foods rich in calories to bulk up their fat reserves. In the bear world, fat means survival, as they can lose up to one-third of their body weight over the winter.   

Bears have an excellent sense of smell and will follow their nose to find food. While natural foods such as acorns, hickory nuts and hazelnuts are abundant, bird seed in feeders is an especially appealing food source because it is high in calories and easy to access. Bears also may be attracted to grills with food debris, unsecured trash, or outdoor pet foods.  

While outdoors this fall, look around your yard and see what steps you can take to help keep Michigan black bears wild. Additional tips and information about preventing potential conflicts with bears can be found at Michigan.gov/Wildlife

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