Indiana’s love-hate relationship with the first bear to visit the state in over 140 years ended when the unruly bruin was captured and euthanized on Saturday. The bear was found about 30 miles from the Indiana border near Stevensville, Michigan, where officials received reports of the bear raiding bird feeders, bee hives, and even attempting to enter occupied homes.
“The Michigan DNR has been tracking those reports and basing decisions on the bear management guidelines. Recently, reports indicated that the bear began exhibiting habituated behavior by repeatedly trying to enter occupied homes. This behavior now placed the bear as a “Category II” within the guidelines (bear considered a potential threat to public safety),” stated the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on Facebook. “In addition, the bear was no longer fearful of humans, and was not easily scared off. Human safety is our number one concern. The bear was trapped, tranquilized, and humanely euthanized on Sat., April 9. Relocation was not an option in this situation because we felt that we would be relocating the problem to another area of the state; we must think of the welfare of all Michigan citizens.”
The bear reportedly engaged in similar activities when it first ventured into Indiana last year. Since then, it has been straddling the border, making a nuisance of itself on both sides. Residents—especially those not living in the areas where the bear roamed—were initially curious about the animal. Bears have never ventured so far south before, and the last native bear in Indiana died in the late 1870s. However, after a series of brushes with the animal, residents soon called for state wildlife officials to relocate the bear. Experts say the animal retreated back north on its own late last year to prepare for winter.
Now that it is on the move, residents near the border are once again reporting conflicts with the bear. Mark Sargent, regional field operations manager for the Michigan DNR, told the Indianapolis Star that in one incident, the bear woke a family in the middle of night and began pounding on a glass door.
“It was a little bit unsettling for us,” Sargent said, noting that the bear weighed about 300 pounds. “That’s the size of a bear who can get through a door, wall or a screen door.”