A 500-pound bear had to be killed after it made an amazing 125-mile journey across Michigan — straight back to the city where it was trapped a month earlier.
The bear was euthanized Thursday by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, according to a news release.
Wildlife officials say they had no choice because the bear refused to stay away from residential neighborhoods after ending up back in Traverse City by late May.
“The bear in question was trapped, radio-collared and relocated to a remote area near Alpena in April,” state officials said.
“The bear quickly found its way back to Traverse City. Since then, the bear’s behavior has become increasingly bold,” they continued. “It has been raiding bird feeders, fruit trees, apiaries and trash cans and has damaged property. The bear has also been moving closer to downtown areas.”
Traverse City, with a population of about 15,000 people, is on the state’s west side near Lake Michigan and Alpena is on the state’s east side by Lake Huron, which means the bear literally crossed the state unhindered in about a month. The trek is between 125 and 130 miles and included crossing Interstate 75.
“Because of this escalating behavior and the bear’s comfort around humans and human food sources, and because relocation has proved ineffective, the DNR humanely euthanized the bear today (9/23) in the interest of public safety,” the state said.
“Our primary concern in these matters is human safety and we believe — based on behavior and history — this bear could pose a threat to human welfare. This was a difficult decision to make and the DNR weighed all options before settling on this solution.”
The department said it gave the bear’s hide and skull to an “educational facility” in the Traverse City area.
Police and residents of Traverse City had been posting photos and videos of the bear’s surprise appearances in recent weeks, and news it had been euthanized prompted some outrage on social media.
“Absolute nonsense,” Rachel Ridley wrote on Facebook. “Michigan’s DNR is supposed to be protecting the natural life here in Michigan and instead this is how they deal with it. The DNR should be ashamed of themselves!”
“They killed a bear for acting like a bear. Geeze,” Jenni Zmuda said.
Some supported the move, however, noting the dangers of having large bears in close proximity of homes and vehicles.
“Everyone is (an) animal rights activist until it’s their kid that (gets) mauled to death (by) an aggressive animal,” Cheryl Gustafson wrote.
Michigan is home to the black bear, which stands about 3 feet tall at the shoulders and can weigh 500 pounds, the state says. “Males have an average home-range size of about 335 square miles,” officials say.