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West Michigan Bear Sightings Cause Stir

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Black bear.
(credit: Michigan DNR, File photo)

Black bear.
(credit: Michigan DNR, File photo)

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VERGENNES TWP. (WWJ/AP) – Authorities are asking people to be cautious following some recent bear sightings in West Michigan.

The sightings started Sunday in Greenville, about 25 miles northeast of Grand Rapids, and continued this week in the area. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says it’s not sure whether it’s the same bear in all cases.

Steve Hartmann told MLive.com he recorded video Monday of a bear pulling down a bird feeder outside his home in Kent County’s Vergennes Township.

On Sunday, a bear was spotted wandering in a residential neighborhood in Greenville. The DNR responded to tranquilize the bear, but it ran off into a nearby wooded area. WZZM-TV reports a bear sighting was reported by a motorist south of Greenville. And WOOD-TV reports a sighting in Lowell.

DNR officials say while black bear sightings are regularly documented in areas north of Grand Rapids, they’ve recently been becoming more common in Kent County.  As bears appear to be moving south, motorists are urged to watch for bears crossing the road.

According to the DNR, black bear are generally fearful of humans and flee if they sense you.

Bear experts say that in the rare circumstance that you encounter a bear that does not turn and leave, first try to scare it off by yelling while leaving a clear, unobstructed escape route for the bear. If the bear stands its ground, makes threatening sounds, take slow steps backward while continuing to talk to the bear in a stern tone. In the rare event of an attack, you should fight back with a backpack, stick or your bare hands.

For more from the DNR on Michigan bears and bear behavior, click here.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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