Bear spotted on Brad Wheat's trailcam behind Craig's Body Shop on Craig Road on the Old Mission Peninsula |; Brad Wheat Photo
Bear spotted on Brad Wheat's trailcam behind Craig's Body Shop on Craig Road on the Old Mission Peninsula |; Brad Wheat Photo
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It’s officially “Bear Day” here on Old Mission Gazette. I’d no sooner posted this history story about four Old Mission Peninsula residents who bagged three black bear in the Upper Peninsula in 1955, when we got a call from Brad Wheat, who owns Craig’s Body Shop on Craig Road.

You’re not going to believe this – Tim and I are gobsmacked – but there’s a bear on the Old Mission Peninsula. Brad called to let us know he spotted the bear on a trailcam set up on land behind Craig’s Body Shop.

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Here’s the photo from Brad’s trailcam last Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. I’m not real bear-savvy, but I guess it’s a black bear? That’s the kind we usually see around northern Michigan, right?

Bear spotted on Brad Wheat's trailcam behind Craig's Body Shop on Craig Road on the Old Mission Peninsula |; Brad Wheat Photo
Bear spotted on Brad Wheat’s trailcam behind Craig’s Body Shop on Craig Road on the Old Mission Peninsula |; Brad Wheat Photo

I have so many questions.

First of all, the last time I heard about a bear on the Old Mission Peninsula was back in the 1960s, when my dad claimed there was a bear in our swamp over by Peninsula Fruit Exchange on “The Forty” (corner of Peninsula Drive and Kroupa Road). Dad said the bear lived in the swamp on the south end of our apple orchard on Peninsula Drive, sort of across the road and a little north of the new OMP cemetery there.

Second, how did the bear get here? He either had to make his way through town and out onto the Peninsula, or swim here from a neighboring shore. I vote for swim. Although, there’s been bear spotted around town – most recently in the Meijer parking lot – so I guess there’s a good chance a bear could have hoofed it out here from town.

What To Do If You See a Bear

Also, this is our public service announcement that if you live in the vicinity of Craig’s Body Shop or adjacent land, be aware that you might have a bear rifling through your trash or hanging around your pets or kids. A story over at Orvis says that bears are generally shy and prefer to avoid interaction with humans. But if provoked, they’ll come after a dog or you, so your best bet is to calmly and quietly leave the area – but don’t run, because then you’re prey.

The story adds that if you encounter a bear at close range, stand upright and make yourself as large as possible. Don’t make direct eye contact. Speak in a calm, assertive, and assuring tone as you attempt to slowly back up and get yourself out of danger.

If the bear moves toward you, wave your arms, make a lot of noise, and toss an object on the ground to distract it long enough for you to escape.

Have you heard about bears on the Old Mission Peninsula? If so, when and where? Sound off in the comments section below.

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

Bay View Insurance of Traverse City Michigan


  1. I remember rumors of a bear/bears on the OMP in the ’50s–during cherry season no less. My dad, Jim Wilson, went so far as to show his daughters pictures of bear paw prints. My uncle, Bill Wilson, said he hoped to God that his pickers didn’t hear the rumors or find any pawprints! I don’t recall that there were any pictures taken or actual pawprints found.

  2. My father-in-law built a home off Pyatt Rd and used to walk that area. He reported seeing bear prints and scat in the area near the lake back there in the 1970s.

  3. According to WTCM there was one spotted at the Grand Traverse Mall this morning (11/16). This time of year it’s not unusual for them to be moving around a bit before winter sets in.

  4. A friend sent this to me. I spent a great deal of time with bears in the wild and had some “encounters” that were quite frightening, but most were very interesting. The writer gives excellent advice. NEVER run away from a bear or any large predator, it’s the chase syndrome and running activates it. Also, locking eyes is considered a challenge. I give 6 to 8 lectures on bears every year for the past 28 years and have a clue about their behavior.

  5. In the early ’70’s a bear was tranquilized and removed from the woods behind John Minnema’s farm, just south of where Nelson Rd. would intersect Bluff Rd, if it went all the through. Since I lived nearby, as a young boy who loved to play outside, it was very exciting.

  6. Another way for bear to get to the Peninsula is by crossing the ice during the winter. Black bear love those unharvested apples. This one is just as likely to have been camping in the wetlands and woods since last winter (or longer), and is now on the move because of deer hunters.


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