Friday, January 16, 2009

Extirpated Mammals of Berrien County, Michigan

The following article appeared on Page D1 of The [St. Joseph, Michigan] Herald-Palladium on Friday, January 16, 2009:
LAKE TWP. HAD BEAR IN 1860s

by Lila Chandler
H-P Correspondent

After reading Outdeer Editor Dennis Cogswell's recent column about Black Bears moving south in Michigan, Jon Wuepper of Royalton Township, who has a background in both local history and nature, sent along a note saying the last written mention of a bear in Berrien County he could find occurred in April 1868 in Lake Township.

"Lake Township was very swampy and sparsely populated then," he writes.

Other multiple sightings of bears were made in October 1842 in the Niles, St. Joseph, and Cass County areas. "It was thought that mast (acorns, beechnuts) in the north was sparse and the bears moved into our area in search of food. I also have a late record (of a bear) from 1875 from Kalamazoo."

Other "last" records of other animals in Berrien County, he said, were: Porcupine (1881, near Benton Harbor); Gray Wolf (about 1910, Lakeside); undisputed Cougar record (1853); Bison (late November 1860 near St. Joseph, about three weeks after Abraham Lincoln was elected president).
My initial list of the mammals of Berrien County included the American Bison, Cougar, and Gray Wolf, but not the Black Bear or Porcupine; that list has now been updated to include those species

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