Michigan DNR stands by decision to euthanize black bear

Published: Apr. 13, 2016 at 6:52 PM EDT
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After public outrage to the Michiana DNR euthanizing the black bear which roamed through Michiana, the Conservation Officers stand by the decision as a matter of public safety.

"It's something we don't take lightly," Mark Sargent with the Michigan DNR said. "But we do prioritize human safety and we went through a protocol to make the decision we did."

The bear was captured in a culvert trap by luring the bear in with sardines, bacon and honey. It was then tranquilized and shot in accordance to veterinary practices for wildlife.

The bear made headlines in the summer of 2015, making its way into Indiana; the first time a black bear was seen in the Hoosier State since the 1800s. It's because of the bear's exposure to humans during this journey which led to the DNR putting the bear down on Saturday.

"The minute they're not scared by people, not scared by barking dogs, he doesn't run away when you turn on the lights at night and he's actually pushing on people's sliding doors, trying to get in while people are yelling, we would list that as a potential high threat for human safety," Sargent said. "That's a problem bear."

More recently, the bear was really testing its limits with the humans it encountered. The DNR was receiving almost daily reports of the bear interacting with humans for the last two or three weeks. Usually, it was insignificant; the bear would get into bird feeders or garbage. However, it was getting onto people's decks and pushing on sliding glass doors.

"When he tried to enter the second home, that documents that he has a habitual habit of trying to enter homes," Sargent said. "He's not scared of people. He's not scared of noises. He's not scared of lights."

And Sargent says black bears are plentiful in the Wolverine State. There is a hunting season for the animals to help keep the population down. But because of the high population, zoos are at capacity for black bears. So with that option out, relocation is the only other answer.

"As far as relocating him, that just moves a problem bear to another area," Sargent said. "In Northern Michigan and the U.P., there are residents there. There are secondary homes. Bears have big home ranges, so you can not isolate bears from human contact. This bear is very comfortable with human contact so you're really not moving the problem."

So ultimately, the DNR made the decision to put the bear down. Now, according to the guidelines, this black bear fell into category II, which means the bear is considered a potential threat to public safety because it is injured or diseased, physically confined to an area or locate din an urban area that it is incapable of leaving, or, like this bear, is exhibiting repeated aggressive behavior towards humans.

The only bear considered more dangerous is a category I bear, which is a bear known to have directly caused human injury or death. These bears are to be euthanized immediately.

For more information on the protocol the Michigan DNR follows for nuisance bears, the