DNR: Bears came to Esky looking for food

ESCANABA – A black bear weighing about 200 pounds was removed from a tree in Escanaba Friday morning — just days after another bear was removed from a tree elsewhere in the city. According to Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Technician Colter Lubben, these incidents were unrelated. The bears were most likely searching for food, according to the DNR.

The most recent situation began early Friday morning.

“At about 5:30 in the morning, a conservation officer was contacted by Escanaba Public Safety that there was a bear wandering around … (on) the east end of Ludington Street,” Lubben said.

Officers from Escanaba Public Safety were on the scene early on, with conservation officers responding shortly after. Their goal was to keep citizens away from the bear until DNR wildlife staff arrived and could tranquilize the bear with a dart gun.

“It was determined that one wildlife biologist and two wildlife technicians would be the ones handling the immobilization process,” Lubben said.

The wildlife biologist who responded to Friday’s incident was Karen Sexton of the DNR Escanaba Customer Service Center. She was accompanied by DNR wildlife technicians from Crystal Falls and Baraga.

Between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., Lubben said the bear made its way into a tree on the 200 block of Ludington Street.

“Throughout the morning … the bear had actually gone up and came down about two or three trees before the tree that it eventually was immobilized in,” he said.

By the time DNR officials were ready to sedate the bear, it was 30-45 feet off the ground in the tree.

“They were able to get a ladder and get on to the roof of the closest house,” Lubben said.

Around noon, Lubben said the bear was successfully hit with a dart.

“Within five minutes, the bear was sedated and actually stayed on a limb this time up in the tree,” he said.

The Escanaba Electrical Department once again provided a bucket truck for use at the scene of the incident. A harness system was put around the bear and attached to the bucket, which was used to safely lower the bear to the ground. Then, the bear’s temperature, pulse and respiration were checked.

By 12:30 p.m., the bear was loaded into a bear trap and transported away from the scene.

“It was determined that the bear would be brought to northern Dickinson County,” Lubben said.

It was released on public land there by 2:30 p.m.

Lubben said the bear involved in Friday’s incident was not the same animal removed from a tree near the corner of South 11th Street and 8th Avenue South in Escanaba on Tuesday, May 26.

“We put ear tags in that bear, and this bear did not have ear tags,” he said.

The bear involved with the second incident was tagged before its release, as well.

Both incidents may have had the same root cause.

“This is a time when bears don’t have a whole bunch to eat yet … they’re moving around a lot, looking for food,” Lubben said, noting Escanaba is close to large areas such as swamps and woods that are ideal habitats for bears.

The situation should change by mid-June.

“That’s when we see a large decline in bear complaints, because of the natural abundance of food that comes out at that time,” Lubben said.

In the meantime, he encouraged people in the area to be aware of potential attractants such as bird feeders and garbage, and to put them in places that are inaccessible to bears.

The DNR thanked Escanaba Public Safety, conservation officers and the Escanaba Electrical Department for their assistance at the scene.


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