INDIANAPOLIS (WWJ/AP) - An Indiana biologist says a black bear that's becoming increasingly brazen as it roams far northern Indiana may need to be tranquilized to capture the animal and return it to Michigan.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources farmland game research biologist Budd Veverka said Tuesday the bear that's making more and more forays into residents' yards.
The bear has damaged garbage cans and bird feeders and pounded on the doors of several homes in the Michigan City area; and CBS Chicago reports a couple living in the area where the bear has been spotted recently came face-to-face with the animal on their back patio.
Similar incidents were reported earlier in the week.
Indiana Conservation Officer Tyler Brock said the bear has become a little too bold. "Our concern would be public safety, because the bear is becoming more and more comfortable coming close to houses; and, really, the safety of the bear, where people may become concerned, and actually do harm to the bear," he said.
Veverka said that because of that behavior the DNR has added the option of tranquilizing the bear if two traps fail to capture the animal.
He said sedating the bear might be needed to protect both it and humans from a possible encounter.
Indiana officials assume the bear came down from Michigan due to the fact that it's Indiana's first confirmed wild black bear since the 1870s.
Michigan, meantime, 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].
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