No lions or tigers, but bears? Oh, my

Karen Wils photo A bear smiles for the trail camera.

ESCANABA — Has Yogi Bear shown up on your trail camera yet? How about the three bears all cute and furry?

September is bear month in the U.P.

The American black bear is a pretty common character in the woods around Delta County. At this time of year, they have a way of showing up in unusual places.

Sometimes they have even been known to wander into town. Usually bears keep to themselves. They are shy woodland creatures that are active from March until about November, when they go back into hibernation for the winter.

Early autumn spreads out a feast for the big bruins. Ripe berries, choke cherries, beech nuts and apples are devoured by the hungry eating machines. The farmer’s field has a smorgasbord of delightful foods for the bear, too. Corn on the cob, rye and oats draw in the bears at night time

At this time of year female bears (sows) are traveling with their fast-growing cubs. Almost anything can become food for bears. Ants, fish, frogs even road killed animals provide protein to the bears diet.

There are many more deer hunters than bear hunters in the U.P. Many of the deer hunters are starting to watch for deer signs out at the hunting camps.

Even though they are hoping to see some nice big bucks showing up on their trail cameras, sometimes what they get are funny pictures of baby bears playing, nursing or climbing on the deer blind.

Sometimes it is the huge male bear that’s caught on camera standing on his hind legs marking his territory by scratching by a tree.

Bear hunting starts in mid-September. This sport is alive and well in the U.P. There are two ways that hunters go about to bag a bear. Some hunters put out bait to lure in bears. While the hunter watches from a blind many different bears may come out over several nights. Cubs and yearling animals are passed over until a really big one finally shows up.

The other way to hunt wild bears is to use hound dogs to track down the bruins. This again is a nighttime sport. Sometimes the dogs have to tree quite a few bears before a keeper is found.

In order to harvest a Michigan bear you must be fortunate enough to have won a bear license in the Department of Natural Resources drawing.

The bears will only be with us for a few more months before they den up for the winter. They are fascinating wild neighbors. As hard as you may try to get to see a bear in its natural habitat, chances are you will not come across one. They can be pretty elusive creatures.

So enjoy the cute antics that the bears often put on the trail camera — and leave a few apples on your trees to feed the three bears.


Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.


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