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Beware the Bears! Are there bears in Sleeping Bear Dunes? Yes – and not just the Mother Bear Dune or the baby bear Manitou Islands. Real bears roam the wilderness at Sleeping Bear Dunes. This past week, there have been several reports of bear sightings in the southern part of the park around the Platte River or Otter Creek areas!
A couple of years ago, I heard rangers talk about finding a big bear footprint on the beach near Glen Haven.
So how should we feel about that? Personally, I’m glad that bears, which are native to this area, have some wilderness habitat where they can live in their natural environment. But we all have to be thinking about how to keep safe – both us and the bears.
Bears (and other wildlife) are drawn to food (or garbage), so first of all, DO NOT FEED wildlife. Be diligent about storing your food and garbage (even empty containers). This includes any items with a scent – even soaps and cosmetics. If you are camping, store your food in your car (out of sight and with windows completely closed) unless you are backpacking when you will need to tie it up above ground between trees to keep it out of reach. Treat your trash like food. Keep it in your car or in an approved trash container. Do not leave food out on a picnic table or by a campfire.
If you have a cottage in the area, think about your birdfeeder. Bears love bird feed – especially the suet.
If you do see a bear, keep your distance. They generally want to avoid contact with people but can become aggressive if cornered. Don’t run away, but slowly back away from the bear. Contact a ranger at 231-326-5234 to report any bear sightings in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Let’s make sure that we and the wildlife around us all stay safe this summer!