August 18, 2011

Hand Feeding Bears - Our Summer Adventure

As my regular readers know, my family has owned a cabin in Canada for over 40 years.  For my entire life of growing up, this was the only vacation we ever had.  Mom would pack for weeks getting ready for this annual two week trip.  My dad would be giddy with excitement.  It was his favorite place on earth.

So our family continues the tradition, and this year we headed north with excitement, as we hadn't gone for two years.  Mom had told of us of a new wildlife refuge for bears that we needed to go visit that is just 15 minutes away from the cabin.

So one evening we decided to head toward town to get water (we get it from a spring well) and go see the bears.  You can't imagine the feeling of walking around the corner of a man's house and seeing this in his back yard:

Michael has been feeding nearly 60 bears a day for a number of years.  He now also takes in other injured creatures to feed and nurse back to health.  He personally owns much of the acreage of forest that the bears call home, and his land is adjacent to Crown (Canadian owned) land and an Indian reservation.  This means the bears have plenty of protected land to call home.

We were not there for more than 3 minutes when Michael asks my family if they want to come in and feed the bears.  Before I could give it a moments thought, my Husband says "YES!".  He quickly slips inside the fence, kneels down next to Michael with a donut in his hand, and an adorable two year old cub begins to saunter toward him.  Quite frankly, I can't believe what I am seeing!

My husband is thrilled beyond belief that he has now joined the ranks of a tiny number of people in the world who can say they have hand fed a wild bear!  I'm snapping photos as quickly as I can and before I know it, my children are in there too!

Husband never even gave me a chance to argue with him, and honestly I think we are all so caught up in the extraordinary outrageousness of this opportunity, that our brains had taken a vacation as well!  These are wild bears....not nursed from a baby.......not raised by human hands......completely wild!  But yet they come into this sanctuary as seemingly friendly as a pet dog.  They even took the donuts from human hands more gently than my dog takes a treat!

Our visit was amazing and we truly enjoyed all that we got to see and experience.  We most certainly will visit again on our next trip to the cabin.

Michael's story was filmed for a documentary called "The Gentle Bear Man of Emo" and has won several awards.  You can learn more of his story from the film crew here.


  1. That is truly amazing! What an experience that you guys will remember for a long long time!

  2. How much fun that must have been!

    Hello! I am @JanetsAtHOME from Twitter.

  3. Hand feeding wild bears...did you once ever consider the consequences of your actions? You can't take the wild out of an animal, you can't predict what a wild animal will do. One bite, one claw across the face or neck, and YOU would have been held accountable for the future of these animals...dead or alive. It's people like you that are an animal's worst nightmare.Here's a fun idea,raise your adventure to petting tigers, wrestling alligators, camping with wild chimpanzees. You are correct, your brains had taken a vacation as well. Maybe next year skip the vacation and stay in the confines of your livingroom, that way there will be no chance for you to harm any wildlife.

    1. Getting a little preachy are we? Have you ever fed a hummingbird? or a squirrel? or a seagull or pidgeon? Seriously..... Live is for living and people value and take their own risks.


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