Iron Mountain, Mich (WZMQ) – Reports of black bear sightings in Dickinson County have been circulating, with mother bears and their cubs spotted along some of the popular mountain biking areas of the Dickinson Trail Network. District Forester for Menominee and Delta counties, Joshua Isaac warns that this time of year, black bears can be more active at certain times of the day, which often coincide with peak trail riding times in areas such as Millie Hill or Fumee Lake.
“With the heat, that certainly drives their activity habits and they’ll be much less active during the hotter parts of the day and doing more of their foraging and roaming during the twilight. The key take home is situational awareness when you’re out in the woods,” Isaac advises. He also noted that with the heat, the times that humans are excited to be out more, such as the cooler times of morning and evening, are also the times when bears are more active.
He suggests making a lot of noise while out in the woods, as bears will hear approaching riders and hikers. Noisemakers can be purchased at local camping stores, or trail enthusiasts could whistle a tune to alert them. Isaac also warns that cougars could be a real concern in the area, in light of a recent confirmed sighting in Luce County, and the fact that the deer population is currently through the roof right now, which could draw in predators.
“That’s because they’re coming from the west through northern Wisconsin, and into the U.P. and we’re right on the border there. We have a lot of prime habitat with all our forests and our topography of hills and uplands and lowlands and wetlands,” Isaac informed. He added,”It’s been estimated that there are up to two million deer in the state right now, and resource managers were concerned about 80 years ago when the numbers were half that.”
He encourages locals who are able to safely hunt, to do so, since the popularity of hunting overall has hit a decline. Over the last few years, he noted an increase in popularity of female hunters getting their licenses and hitting the woods during deer season. “That’s really cool to see,” Isaac encouraged.
Confirmed cougar sightings in Dickinson County have occurred as recently as last year.
“Important things to consider about cougar sightings,” he warned, “they do happen.” Isaac noted that with recent technology advancements and the number of people putting up trail cameras, that we could be seeing multiple sightings of the same one or two cats. Bear hunters also get out and train their hounds this time of year, which could keep the cougars moving around more. He informed that tagged cougars have been known to travel thousands of miles from out west, moving through the U.P. essentially to the east coast.
The Forestry Department is inviting the public to join them on exhilarating guided hikes happening all summer long in Dickinson county, completely free of charge. The department just announced its upcoming woodburning workshop event, taking place this month at the stunning Cowboy Lake. Outdoor enthusiasts who participate in the wood burning event can also enjoy a refreshing cup of Chaga tea.
Outdoor adventurers are encouraged to make sure to bring some bug spray and water on the hikes, starting with one on June 24th at Iron Mountain City Park, which will meet up near the dog park.
Adventurers can learn about topics related to forest management, invasive species, flora, fauna, fungi and tree identification on the guided hikes. Participants can also get helpful guidance on state and federal tax incentives for landowners.
All of the free guided hikes are set up to have a start time of 10 am CST this season, but locations will vary throughout the summer.
A hike on July 15th will take place at Verso Park in Quinnesec, then the August 19th hike will happen at West Fumee. Later in September, on the 16th hikers will meet at East Fumee, and on the 14th of October at the beautiful Piers Gorge.
For more information, contact: dmFAPforester@gmail.com