A peculiar mound of apparent animal droppings found by a Commerce Township couple may be evidence of a bear wandering around the lakes area, according to local animal experts.
Derrick and Viola Freeman said they made the strange discovery around Tuesday, Sept. 25, behind some pine trees in their backyard in the 9000 block of Woods Edge Drive, near the Edgewood Country Club.
“We have deer and coyotes come back there all the time,” Derrick Freeman said about the property. “About a week before, I cut the grass and then went camping. When I came back, I went back there and noticed a large pile … with berries and nuts in it.”
The discovery — an unformed mound about 1 foot across — immediately raised concerns with the couple, who suspect it may have been left by bear.
“I’ve lived in that house for 12 or 15 years, I’ve walked the Proud Lake Recreation Area and have seen other things, but never anything like this,” Derrick Freeman said. “Nothing this big.”
Looking for assistance in identifying what might be lurking in the woods, the Freemans took a picture of the pile and asked for help from others.
“They actually brought a sample in,” said veterinarian Douglas Stacer of the Airport Veterinary Hospital in Waterford Township. “If I was Up North chasing bear and I saw that, I would call it bear scat.”
Stacer said bear scat would look different than droppings left by other wild animals that would likely be in the area.
“It’s usually not a formation like you would see with a coyote or a dog,” he said. “It’s more of a shapeless mass.”
Freeman said he called the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, Oakland County Animal Control, and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to see if they could provide any assistance in determining whether a bear is roaming the area. However, he said initial calls were met with skepticism and indifference. Frustrated, he said he set up his own “critter cam” to see if he could capture an image of whatever left the droppings.
“If we have credible evidence that it might be a bear … a picture or scat … we will check it out,” said Wildlife Specialist Tim Payne of the DNR Field Office in Southfield. “Frankly, we don’t see a lot of bear in southern Michigan.”
Payne said the last bear sighting in southeast Michigan was about a year ago near Dexter, just west of Ann Arbor. He said that bear ended up being a person’s pet that got loose. However, he said there have been black bear sightings in the Clarkston and Flint areas in the past.
“Most of the bears we see in southern Michigan, we see in the spring,” Payne said. “The young male will typically come out of the den and the mother kicks it out of her territory. They will meander in and out of the area.”
Payne said wildlife sightings in Oakland County can be reported to the DNR field offices in Southfield or Holly.