Image and article from WZZM13
TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. - It's a dreaded sight for Traverse City beekeeper Larry Hilbert: Wood boxes containing beehives broken and scattered, the honeycomb stripped away, the bees dead or gone.
The culprit, as cliché as it may be, are honey-loving black bears. And the problem's getting worse, said Hilbert, the owner of Hilbert's Honey Bees.
"I'm a fourth-generation beekeeper; my sons are five," he said. "I have more (bear) problems in a month than my dad had in a 40-year career."
Black bear populations are on the rise, particularly in the northern Lower Peninsula. The number of black bears 1 year old and older in that region has soared 29% since 2012 — up 47% since 2000 — to 2,112 bears, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Upper Peninsula adult black bear populations are up 11% in that time frame, to 9,699 bears.
Nowhere is the bear boom stronger than the 10-county area of western Michigan from the Leelanau Peninsula south to Muskegon County, designated by the DNR as the Baldwin Bear Management Unit, one of nine units in the U.P. and the northern Lower Peninsula.
The population growth is no accident. It's a result of carefully restricted hunting and a desire by the DNR and hunters to bolster the bear numbers, in no small part to make for successful, enjoyable hunts for bear hunters that might have to wait 10 to 12 years to land a license in the Baldwin unit, through the state's points-based, quasi-lottery draw. Some 2,845 hunters applied to hunt bear in the Baldwin unit last season. Just 80 got licenses.
There's still plenty of habitat for more bears, said Tim Dusterwinkle, president of the Michigan Bear Hunters Association.
"We'd like to see more bears on the landscape," he said. "We value the bear as the premier game animal in the state."
Read more at WZZM13.
Bear Hunting Magazine does not agree with all view expressed in this WZZM release.