INDIANAPOLIS (WWJ/AP) – A black bear that roamed into Indiana from southwestern Michigan this summer and eventually returned home is back in the Hoosier State, fattening up for its winter hibernation.
State Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Budd Veverka said the juvenile male reached the Michigan City area by early Thursday but may have entered the state the day before.
When the bear crossed into Indiana in July it became the state’s first confirmed sighting of the species in 144 years.
Veverka said the bear has been feeding on native nuts and berries but also raiding residents’ bird feeders and trash cans to put on fat for hibernation.
Unconfirmed reports on Twitter Friday announced the bear had “raided a honey farm.”
Veverka said the bear might hibernate in Indiana if it can find a den like a hollow tree to ride out the winter.
The bear reportedly pounded on the doors of several homes in the Michigan City area over the summer; and CBS Chicago reported one startled couple came face-to-face with the animal on their back patio.
Efforts were made to capture the bear to return it to Michigan after Indiana conservation officers became concerned the animal had grown too bold.
Michigan is home to an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 bears — with 90 percent of the population in the Upper Peninsula, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
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, the DNR says you should fight back with a backpack, stick or your bare hands.
The DNR also recommends that Up North campers and hikers carry pepper spray, which has been shown to be effective in fending off bear attacks. [More about bears in Michigan, here].
TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.