LANSING, Mich — Michigan black bears soon will be rising from hibernation and searching for a replenishing meal. In order to help local communities avoid potential conflicts with bears, the Department of Natural Resources recommends that residents consider taking down bird feeders and removing any food sources that might attract wildlife.

Black bears are primarily found in the Upper Peninsula and the northern half of the Lower Peninsula.

Despite the abundance of natural food sources available in the springtime, bears prefer bird feeds and suet because of their high fat content and easy accessibility.

“Bears are creatures of habit. Once they have found a reliable food source, they will return until the food source is removed,” said DNR large carnivore specialist Cody Norton. “While it can be exciting to see a bear, providing them food can cause problems for you, your neighbors and the bear.”

Food sources that can attract bears to your yard include bird feeders, trash cans, grills, pet foods, apiaries (where beehives are kept), bonfire pits and anything else that might contain food debris. Homeowners should take action to limit bear conflicts by taking down bird feeders, storing grills and trash cans in sealed buildings and cleaning all substances of food debris.

Anyone who has removed a bird feeder and is still experiencing bear problems two weeks later is encouraged to contact the nearest DNR office for assistance.