Black bear numbers have increased in Michigan's Lower Peninsula and so have the sightings.

Michigan Black Bear Numbers for 2024

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The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently released the population numbers of black bears in the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

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The DNR and hunters' work have been doing is paying off with Michigan's black bear population. The number of black bears in the state is increasing with over 10,000 bears in the Upper Peninsula alone.

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The black bear population has also increased in Michigan's Lower Peninsula to over 2,000. That is great news but there is a problem: more people in the Lower Peninsula means more black bears coming in contact with humans.

Michiganders May See More Black Bears in Lower Peninsula

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I have lived in the Grand Rapids area for over 6 years and in that short time, several black bear sightings have been reported. There was one in a tree in downtown Grand Rapids, another spotted near Holland, another in Walker, and a large bear was hit by a truck near the 96 and 131 exchange.

Read More: Attention Mi Deer Hunters: Be On The Lookout For Bear Dens 

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My son and I saw one cross the road in Newaygo a few years ago during the Easter break but bears are supposed to be in that area.  I have gotten a few on my trail cameras but it was just traveling bears looking to feed, mate, and put up shop. We don't have regulars but it shows they are on the move to new locations.

Courtesy of Emalee Harmon
Courtesy of Emalee Harmon
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According to WOOD, the black bear in the picture above was spotted by Emalee Harmon and her husband traveling on a road in Owosso. I drive by Owosso when visiting my parents and will keep an eye on my travels.

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Black bear sightings are becoming more frequent further south in the state like the one spotted in the picture above by Ron Jackson who snapped that photo northeast of Landing.

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So don't be surprised if you see a black bear cross the road further south in Michigan. If you do, remember it is still a wild animal, and keep your distance. You should contact the DNR about the sighting because the information can help manage the population.

LOOK: What black bears want, and how to deter them

Black bears are on the move in New Jersey and all 21 counties need to be ready. Here's a look at what might attract them to your property should one be sighted in your area.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant