SHELTER BAY - Michigan Department of Transportation officials reopened the Deer Lake Roadside Park along M-28 in Alger County today, after efforts to trap a nuisance bear yielded no results.
The park was closed Tuesday. Michigan Department of Natural Resources staff attempted to trap and relocate a black bear reported to have been raiding garbage cans at the park, which is located along the highway in an area populated by a few residents, between Deer Lake and Lake Superior.
"We have had a higher number of nuisance bear complaints in recent weeks than what we would typically see at this point in the summer," said DNR wildlife biologist Brian Roell, who works at the DNR's office in Marquette. "Due to the late start to spring the berry crop is behind schedule, which is leading to bears looking for other food sources, including trash and bird feeders. That is apparently what is happening at Deer Lake."
The DNR is now hoping to secure permission from local landowners to try to trap the bear on private property in the surrounding area. The park will remain open.
"The bear has not acted aggressively toward humans, but letting a bear become accustomed to people and manmade sources of food can lead to problems down the line, so we do hope that with landowner cooperation we will be successful in trapping and relocating this bear," Roell said.
MDOT Newberry Transportation Service Center Manager Pete Paramski said the agency regretted any inconvenience caused by the temporary park closure.
"Keeping visitors safe and assuring they have a pleasant experience are the foremost goals of MDOT," Paramski said.
Residents experiencing trouble with nuisance bears on private property should contact the nearest DNR office for assistance. If Deer Lake Roadside Park visitors witness a bear in the park, state officials said they should call the DNR's 24-hour hotline at 800-292-7800.