Black bear seen swimming across Muskegon Lake

8:45 PM, May 13, 2013   |    comments
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  • West Michigan's previous bear encounter. Photo from Laura Bos - North Muskegon
  • Muskegon Lake - photo from Scott Shelagowski
  • Muskegon Lake - photo from Scott Shelagowski

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- Muskegon Police and the Department of Natural Resources are asking residents to give space to a black bear that swam into the city from North Muskegon around 7 a.m. Monday.

The bear is believed to be a 200 pound young male; he is likely resting in a wooded area along the shore of Muskegon Lake. A bear expert thinks the bear will try to get outside the city limits Monday night.

Scott Shelagowski of Muskegon was fishing for bass at Pointe Marine Monday morning, not too far from Muskegon State Park. What he caught was a close encounter with a much larger animal.

"Heard something and it was a black bear right behind me about 30 yards. I seen him go through the boats rather quickly and he was swimming in the lake," said Shelagowski.

By the time he got his camera the bear was in the water and already heading to the side of Muskegon Lake with fewer places to go unnoticed.

"We got turkey and deer and it is kind of crazy the wildlife down here," said Jim McCabe of Muskegon.

McCabe was on a bicycle trail on the Grand Trunk property when the black bear finished the long swim. At first he thought he was seeing a stray family pet. After another long close look, McCabe says his brain didn't believe his eyes.

Police closed a portion of the bike path and they want people to stay away from the bear. Its most likely resting inside a 30 acre fenced property just off Lakeshore Avenue near Frisbie Street.

The DNR considered tranquilizing the bear but then reconsidered. They hope that sometime after nightfall Monday, the bear will be well rested and will swim back across Muskegon Lake under the cover of darkness, or wander outside the city limits never to be heard from again. Police say if you see the bear get away, report the animal's location to 911.

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