Bear Season on the Menu; Hold the Chocolate

More than 11,000 bear hunters will take to the woods this fall in Michigan, however many more people will enjoy the entire process of the hunt. If you are one of the lucky ones, there is one key thing you should know this season—hold the chocolate.

In October of 2010, a black bear cub was found dead on a bait pile by a hunter. Upon necropsy of that animal, it was determined that the cub died from theobromine poisoning as a result of ingesting chocolate. This is the first and only evidence that current bear baiting practices in Michigan could cause mortality in bears. While there is no evidence that mortality due to chocolate ingestion is causing a population level impact in bears, MUCC is recommending that hunters should limit their use of chocolate in bear baits.

In March 2011, the DNR Wildlife Division recommended that chocolate be removed from the items that can be lawfully used for baiting bears. The Michigan Bear Hunters Association, Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, and MUCC agreed that this restriction wasn’t necessary at this time and agreed to assist in educating hunters about limiting chocolate as a component in bear baits. We ask for your help as well to help spread the word.

The important point for bear hunters is that chocolate, in large enough quantities, can cause sickness and even death in bears, as well as dogs.  Hunters should be aware that darker chocolates such as baker’s chocolate are more dangerous, whereas milk chocolate is less dangerous.  Extra care should be taken to avoid all dark chocolates and limit the use of milk chocolate. Given the numerous other options for use in bear baits, hunters should be encouraged to consider using alternative items when baiting for bears.  These alternative baiting materials are just as effective as chocolate yet pose little risk to bears and other wildlife.

To prevent future bear mortality due to chocolate and possible restrictions on bear baits, we ask that all bear hunters do their part to limit chocolate in bear bait.

And, as a side note, unsuccessful drawing applicants and individuals who did not apply may now purchase a remaining bear license, which are still available for Hunt 0003, BERGLAND – 3RD PERIOD 09/25/11 – 10/26/11. Remaining bear licenses are available to Michigan residents only and will be sold until the quota is met in each hunt period. Purchasing a leftover license still resets your preference points to zero.

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