T.R. Michels

T.R. Michels is a professional guide who specializes in trophy whitetail, turkey and bear hunts in Minnesota. He has guided in the Rocky Mountains for elk and mule deer, too. He publishes the Trinity Mountain Outdoors website at www.TRMichels.com.

Posts about Recreation

Answers to Facebook Wildlife Questions

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: October 3, 2011 - 5:57 AM

For some reason this would not post last night as I promised, but here it is.

To address some of the misconceptions and issues raised on some of the "Protect Minnesota’s Research Bears" page on Facebook (which you all should join).

Why wasn’t Hope wearing a collar?

Hope did not have a collar on when she was shot, because she kept pulling it off. And the researchers did not have time to catch up to her and put another one on before they lost track of her, and then she got shot.

What more could researchers have done?

The researchers did everything physically possible, short of staying in the woods, and sleeping in it, in not much more than their clothes at night.

Why are post being deleted on the Lily the Black Bear page?

If it has anything to do with the actions of the DNR I can understand it.

Posts may be getting deleted on the LTBB page, because Dr. Rogers and Sue Mansfield feel they have to be very cautious in what they allow to be posted on that web page, because the DNR is threatening to limit the number of den cams they can put out; limit the number of visits to dens they can do; limit the number of bears they can put radio collars on, and more.

I, on the other hand, do not worry about approval of what I am doing. In fact, I received an e-mail from Chris Niskanen the Communications Director of the MN DNR, asking me to call him, because he’d "like to correct your (my) assertions in your (my) recent blog post.

I e-mailed him back explaining that with everything that was going on in my family right now, my wife’s battle with lung cancer, my daughter’s battle with skin cancer, her problems as the result of the after-effects of bariatric surgery, plus her chronic migraines and chronic asthma, and because I had lost the hearing in my left ear about a year ago and I currently had an infection in my right, with drainage due to the release of the infection liquids, and the drops I was putting into my ear, that I did not want to take any phone calls, because we had spent the night in the ER with my daughter, and that I was not up to getting my chops busted right now.

I asked him to e-mail his corrections of my assertions in my post, and wrote that I would probably post them on my blog. He has not, as of this date, sent me his corrections However, I did receive an e-mail saying that if I would not give him/the DNR my phone number that they would contact Dennis Anderson of the Star Tribune.

First of all no one ever asked me for my phone number, even if I would not give it to them. And how am I supposed to take an e-mail that says that if I don’t do what they want, they will contact my superior? I’ll let you decide what that means.

AS to the Lilly the Black BearPage

I cannot speak definitively about why posts are being deleted from the Lily the Black Bear page, but after talking to Dr. Rogers several times, I know that he is worried that Commissioner Landwer will limit the number of cameras he can put in dens, limit the number of times they can visit the dens, limit the number of bears he can put collars on, and other things that will affect his ability to conduct the research in the way he wants to do it.

So, Dr. Rogers and the Moderators of the Facebook page are being very cautions not to allow anything negative to be said about the DNR They feel they have to be not only politically correct when it comes to the DNR, but not allow any negative postings by private citizens of the Sate of Minnesota. And since I am sure the DNR knows this now, even if they did not know or suspect the censorship of a privately owned internet page because the owners/moderators of that page and Dr. Rogers, are being unduly influenced, due in part to the possible or feared actions of the DNR, now - I would hope that the DNR would tell Dr. Rogers and the moderators of the LTBB page, that in no uncertain terms, do they need not worry about what private citizens are saying about the DNR, because the DNR is strong enough to handle some criticism, and that the actions of Commissioner Landwehr will in no way be affected by what is posted on that page. That is the least they can do.

You can post Negative feelings about the DNR on my web age

On that note, because I am not funded by the DNR in my research of black bears, and I am not afraid of what any entity can do to me - rest assured that you can post your thoughts here, and o n my "Protect Minnesota’s Research Bears" page on Facebook and they will not be censored, unless they are off topic, maligning, or vulgar. As long as you are civil, I will allow negative posts about Dr. Rogers, myself, hunters, non-hunters and anti-hunters, the DNR, and any other entity connected to this issue, to remain on this page, as long as you do not ramble or become abusive. Rambling is reserved for me.

Why do hunter Bait Bears?

Many anti-hunters and non-hunters are complaining that hunting over bait stations is not hunting. Well, lets look at it more closely. First lets’ assume that in order to keep bears in balance with the "habitat carrying capacity" (the amount of forage available to bears) in much of its range in central and northern Minnesota, or in order to keep bears in balance with the "social carrying capacity: of the habitat (how many bears will humans put p with in the more suburban or urban areas of the southern portion of black bear range in Minnesota, you have to remove some of the bears every year, because in almost all areas bears are at carrying capacity levels of some sort. You cannot transport them to other areas of the state, or even other states, because those habitats are full to. So, the only alternative is to kill them. And that is best done and most cheaply accomplished, by offering hunters permits, so hunters will harvest the bears for sport, meat, hides, skulls, or rugs.

But, hunting black bears in the State of Minnesota, where bears are often at least somewhat and often primarily nocturnal/crepuscular feeders (meaning they only come out to feed within a few hours of sunset, and may continue to be active until a couple or hours of daylight. And due to the habitat they live in, which most areas is thick forest, sometimes the only chance a bunter gets, and at least in many instances the best chance a hunter gets, at killing a black bear (because sows may have a home range of up to 20 square miles, and boars may have a home range of up t 100 square miles), is by putting out some type of food that bears like, so that they can get the bears to come to an area where the hunter can see into the forest more than a few yards (especially if the hunter is an archery hunter) from where the hunter waits, so the hunter can actually see the bear as it approaches the bait station, and give him time to assess its size and age, possibly its pelt conditions, and gets a good shot

If hunters could not bait, many of them might not ever see a bear, or get a chance to hunt one. Which means that in order to achieve the required number of bears harvested each year, and keep them within the carrying capacity of the habitat and area they live in, more permits must be offered, with the undesirable results of too many hunters in the woods, each trying to hunt the same few bears.

Baiting, in the forests and swamp habitat of Minnesota, has proven to be the most successful way to harvest bears, and keep them within the carrying capacity of the habitat. Without baiting, habitat destruction and irate human being might be the result of too many bears in the state.

Why do some Hunters want to get me Banned from Midwest Hunting Shows/

I cannot honestly answer that question, but before they do it, they might think of the things I have done for them in the past.

Do you hunters who want to lynch me remember that I am the person who exposed Scent Lok as a Fraud, because it cannot be reactivated in a household dryer, nor can it last for more than about 7 times wearing it or seven washings, because the charcoal is completely full of chemicals that cannot be dislodged in temperatures below 500 degrees F. When I did that I saved some of you a couple of hundred dollars, and all I got was ridiculed for taking on a multi-million dollar company ,that lies to it customers. I’ve never been thanked, by anyone.

Do hunters remember when I was submitting articles about the low number of older bucks in Minnesota, to the Minnesota Deer Hunter’s magazine - Whitetales. The lowering of the older buck portion of the deer herd was directly linked to the deer management practice of the state of Minnesota, whereby they were proud of the fact that after they implemented there "new" management plans (in the late 70’s, and ha not been changed until recently) , they reduced the older age portion of the bucks in Minnesota, from 34 % to 17% (and they were proud of that?), which resulted in an increase in buck numbers in the overall deer population of the state, due to the increase of 1-2 year old bucks in the herd (yea, ‘cause that is what deer hunters want to see, is more 6-8 point yearling and two year old bucks - when the habitat can just as easily hold an equal number of large older bucks.

This change was due to the fact that the gun season was held during the weeks of peak breeding in Minnesota, when older dominant bucks were most often seen – and killed, as they searched for and bred estrus does. After which they did not get a chance to pass on their large racked genetics to our deer herd, because they had been killed, possibly before they had a chance to breed all of the does that they could have. Finally, after years of pressure by Minnesota deer hunters, the DNR changed the gun season dates in some areas, to the weeks after peak breeding, which allowed the older large racked bucks to live long enough to pass on their genetics.

From what I’ve seen at the Deer Classic, most hunters will gladly pass up the chance at a small 1-2 year old 6-8 point buck, if they know they have the chance to shoot an older buck with a large 8-12 point rack. I tried to get good information out there, but it took time to get the DNR to make some changes.


God bless, good hunting and hunt safe,




Start the "Protect Minnesota's Research Bears" campaign - with Hope

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: October 2, 2011 - 10:15 AM

Below is a response to one comment about one of my articles. But, I thought I should use it as a BLog post,so everyone read it -and hopeflly follow through.here and on Facebook. Oh by the way, if you have not yet logged on to Facebook, and joined and "liked' my "Protect Minnesota's Research Bears" campaign, and my "Citizens for Legislative Action on Conservation" (CLAC) pages,please do so now.

They are where you  will find all of the news and information about what is going on with both organizatioins - which I hope will bring anti-hunters, non-hunters and hunters together -  to protect, conserve and preserve our wild places, and wildlife, before it is too late. If we do not become more conservation conscious now, our children may not be able to enjoy the beauty of nature that we currently enjoy.

So, please join those pges, and think of ways we can become more active on conservation. 


Lets start the "Protect Minnesota's Research Bears" campaign - with Hope

As I've written on Facebook - now, when so many people are incensed about the senseless  killing of Hope, is a great time to e-mail or call your local representative or senator, and give them a piece of your mind. and ask them to please pass a bill to Protect Minnesota's Research Bears. And call them at home.

Then call Commissioner Landwehr's office and Governor Dayton's office, and do the same thing. Then write out why you think these bears should be protected, and e-mail your comments to me at TRMichels@yahoo.com, so I can add them to the over 700 comments I already have, which I plan to present to the Legislature, Commissioner Landwehr and the Governor, once the legislature is back in session next year. You should keep a copy of your comments, so that you can re-send it to your legislators etc. when we kick the "Protect Minnestas' Research Bears" campaign into high gear next year, in an effort to see that something like this never happens again. And so that Hope, the bear so many people loved, did not die in vain.

Was this all pre-ordained? Possibly.

God bless,


Didyou know

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: October 1, 2011 - 10:40 PM

Did you know?"

It is somewhat funny. I started my career as a writer /seminar speaker, and based my reputation on getting to the bottom of wildlife myths and telling the truth as best I could determine it – with hunters. And now, here I am trying to do the same thing with non-hunters and even anti-hunters, all of whom I hope will stay tuned, read what I write, keep an open mind, and hope will be able to understand enough to change their minds.

One of the biggest misconceptions I read about, is that wildlife populations will balance themselves. While that may be truein some cases, what is being left out is, that in many instances it may take dozens if not hundreds or thousands years for that to occur. It may only after there has been massive habitat destruction, drought, disease, stress or large die offs of one or more species.

First, realize that everything in an ecosystem is dependent to some extent on everything else in that ecosystem. And, if we look at it, as we should, the earth itself is one large ecosystem. To start at the beginning, or bottom, of the biological pyramid – lets assume that a frog laid its eggs in a shallow pond, one, which relied on seasonal rains to keep it wet. When the frog laid its eggs the pond may have been filled with microorganisms that were dined on by invertebrates such as insects and arachnids, which in turn were dined on by small invertebrates such as crustaceans and mollusks, which were dined on by small vertebrates such as amphibians, reptiles and fish, which were dined on by larger fish such as bass and walleyes, and wading birds such as herons and egrets, and large birds of prey, such as hawks or eagles, and mammalian species such as weasels, mink and otters, which in turn may be dined on by larger predators such as badgers, coyotes, bobcats, wolves and bears, which man in turn be killed and eaten or used by humans.

Once the frog eggs hatch, the tadpoles emerge, and begin to eat microorganisms and algae, which rely on rain to keep them wet, but it did not rain. So the tadpoles ate all of the microorganisms and algae, and even plant life in the pond. Then they may begin to eat each other, and if it does not rain, before they grow legs, with which to leave the pond, they will die – all for the lack of rain.

This same scenario can occur in any animal species. Too many bears in a habitat, means that they will eventually eat everything in the habitat, and if they do not leave the habitat, they begin to suffer malnutrition, physical stress disease, and eventually death. Even if a few bears make it through the worst time, it may be dozens of years, if not more, before there is enough forage for the bears to eat and get healthy, to the point where they can begin to reproduce again. In most cases poor or low forage for larger animals such as bears and deer, results to some extent, in pregnant animals either aborting their young, or resorbing, the egg back into their bodies, so that the adult can survive.

In a balanced ecosystem, the predators, such as bears eventually begin to keep their numbers in balance with the carrying capacity of the habitat, meaning there is enough forage and deer and small animals for them to eat, that they do not suffer malnutrition. This is often accomplished by the fact that females either may not come in to estrus if they are not healthy, or some of the unhealthy animals die off, or eggs are reabsorbed back into the females so that they do not give birth the next year. But, if something catastrophic occurs, such as a wildfire, or drought or strong winds or a tornado, that destroys the forage base, large numbers of animals may suffer malnutrition, stress and starvation.

Let’s use deer as an example. The thing that kept deer in balance with the carrying capacity of the habitat, before man entered the picture, was large predators. But, since most humans refuse to live in the presence of large predators, either the predators are driven out of the area, or more likely, they are killed, and then there is nothing natural to keep the deer herd from overpopulating and getting out of balance with the carrying capacity of the habitat. What often occurs is that the deer begin eating everything in sight (as in what occurs in many county and city parks, where deer densities may reach 49 deer per square mile, on habitat that generally holds 14–20 deer per square mile). Once deer numbers get that high they begin to dine on anything in the woods, and you will notice that the lush forest floor is no longer lush, the weeds (as many call them,but are propely teremed forbs) are gone, and then the lower branches of the trees are gone, because the deer ate them. (We refer to this condition as a browse line.) And eventually vegetable gardens will be dined on, hostas and arbor vitae will be dined on, and numerous deer/vehicle collisions occur, often endangering the health and possibly the lives of citizens. And the human residents of these areas begin to complain - all because their ancestors did not want to live with coyotes, wolves and bears in the vicinity.

When the habitat begins to fill up with humans, or the predators aren't there to keep the deer in balance with the carrying capacity of the land, the only alternative we have is – hunting. Or at least killing, because most areas where anti-hunters and non-hunters think the deer could be relocated to, already have all of the deer the habitat in that area can hold. Which leaves killing some animals as the only alternative.

Another scenario that many non-hunters and anti-hunters may not be aware of is that in some small animals and bird populations, that do not have large animals as predators (only raptors - birds of prey), the way they keep their numbers in balance with the carrying capacity of the habitat, is through annual mortality rates. With many game birds, and small mammals, the annual mortality rate, whether the species is hunted or not, will be enough that they do not overpopulate the habitat. In some populations the annual mortality rate will approach about 30 percent. But, as I said, it makes no difference if the animals are hunted or not, hunting (provided game managers have a good idea of what the annual mortality rate of a particular species is, will not offer permits or licenses that exceed the annual mortality rate) will have little or no effect on the yearly population. In other word, hunting has no noticeable effect on the annual population of the species. So, hunting can be used to fund the research and management of wildlife. Without those funds, that research and management probably would not occur, especially in these difficult economic times.

Although one might argue that there is no need hunt these species, because they are somewhat self-regulating, without the funds generated by hunting, not only research and management of a particular species might not occur, but funds needed to support parks, trails etc, that so many outdoor enthusiasts and Minnesotan’s are proud of, and take advantage of, would not exist.

If you are a nature lover, or a birder or wildflower enthusiast, and pay nothing or very little to walk or hike in the parks, wildlife areas and nature areas, that you enjoy, you can thank the hunters - because they are the ones that supply a major part of the funding needed to purchase, maintain and improve those areas. You should take time to thank hunters for what they do for wildlife, wild places and for you. 


God bless all of you,


If you are interested in a wildlie tour or photogaphy trip, now is a great time to go, because many bird speceis are migrating through our state, and the deer rut is beginning. If interested give me a buzz at TRMichels@yahoo.com



What Do Facebookers Say

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: October 1, 2011 - 5:31 PM

Unfortunately readers here may not see the comments readers from one of the Lily the Black Bear related pages on Facebook, such as my "Protect Minnesota's Research Bears"  page, leave on Facebook. If you only read the comments left here, you might get a very one sided view of what people think.

Here is a short list of some of the comments made on Facebook.


      Thank you for that blog post, T.r. I'm in Canada, but I've just joined the Protect Minnesota Research Bears page.
      Thank you T.r.
  •   Glad to see a positive article.....thanks!
  •   Excellent TR way to go
  •  Glad to see a positive article...Thanks
  •   Well written article T.r!!! Hope hunters take away something from it!
           I especially like this quote from the article: "Why not, instead of restricting how much Dr. Rogers is allowed to do, help him, help the citizens and State of Minnesota." Outstanding!
  •  excellent article,hope all hunters really read this article
  •   Im so glad someone has stepped up and has a positive out look for the bears..they need it now
  • hope for hope that the hunters will understand the lose
  • what a superb article. Thank you TR.
  • Thank you T.r.!!
  •   Thank you, T.r.! AND Thank you, Hope!!
  • Thanks again, TR. Wonder if any hunters will respond? Hope so. Glad you mentioned the conservation and economic importance to MN.
  •  I agree with you wholeheartedly.
  •  She was essentially a million dollar bear and an ambassador for research and that ability been impacted. If this happened to a for-profit organization heads would fly for the interruption to business this has caused, don't you think?.
  •  Thank you, TR. Another great article. Your voice is always appreciated.
  • I really like T.r. Michels posts, gives me hope there can be a compromise and we can all really get along for the greater good. There is a lot of common ground.
  •   thank you for writing about the bears!!
  • Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Let's Hope for a positive solution to the current hunting regs.
  • Thank you,TR. hoping that those who are in charge of change will see and understand what has been lost for all time and what could have been so easily saved.
  • Thank you TR for a great article.
  •  Thank you for your very positive informative article regarding Hope.
  • Thank you T.R. great read

Do We Even Need Hunters?

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: October 1, 2011 - 5:11 PM

Let's get Real

Unfortunately, many of the people who post on the internet, such as the Lily the Black Bear page on Facebook, even though the efforts of Dr. Rogers to portray the live so bears honestly, still have an anthropomorphic view of how wildlife, including bears really live and survive. This view by non-hunters may be due in part, to the internet presence of the bears that Dr. Rogers is researching. The people who watch those bears, on one hand, may have feared bears before watching them on the internet, but due to what they see, they may loose their fear of bears. Instead of now fearing bears, they often connect, emotionally, with the bears such as hope and Faith, and may only see the "love and care" that they often see between a sow and her cubs or between bear siblings.

The Harsh Realities

The truth of the matter is that, black bears can be violent, and ruthless. Fights may be particularly violent when they fighting are over feeding territory rights or breeding rights, such as the fight of these two large Alaskan brown bears,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGwUpM9QryU, or these grizzly bears http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNehtyJMK2A. Male bears often kill the cubs of female bears, so that she will come into estrus after her cub dies and be ready to breed. That is one of the harsh realities of black bear behavior.

What I am trying to with this post, is be absolutely honest about the facts of bears and their interaction between each other and with the habitats they live in. I am trying to point out that bears are big enough to be dangerous t humans, and that a bear’s life is not all "cuddly" and "lovey dovey". If you have that perception of bears, please look at the life of a bear with realistic eyes, and try to see the truth of the matter. .


Are Hunters Needed?

With that in mind, lets take a look at why hunters are so important to bear management in every state where they are found. In Minnesota, where there are between 20,000 and 30,000 black bears the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is charged with keeping the bear population in balance with two different sets of criteria. In the northern part of the state, which is made up of vast stretches of wilderness, interspersed with scattered pockets of humanity (in the form of farms and towns) - the DNR manages bears so that they are kept in balance with the "habitat carrying capacity", meaning how many bears can the habitat support per square mile. Because of the type of management, and the fact that this area may be able to withstand more bears than other areas, and because the humans that live there, are often more accustomed to bears in their area than the humans in the more southerly areas will tolerate - the DNR offers a limited number of bear hunting permits each year, base on the number of bears it believe each unit can hold.

In the more southerly regions of the state, where there may be mostly farms, towns and cities, populated with humanity, the DNR may have to manage the bear population to be kept in balance with the "social carrying capacity" of the habitat, meaning how many bears will the humans in that area put up with. In this area the DNR often offers an unlimited number of bear hunting permits, in an effort to keep the number of bears, not at or below what the habitat can hold, but instead, within the parameters of what the humans in each unit will put up with.

The Important Role of the Department of Natural Resources

To figure out how many bears can be harvested each year, or more correctly how many bears should be harvested each years, the DNR takes into account how many bears the habitat will hold, the annual increase in bear population due to births, the survival rate of young bears (the survival rate of black bear cubs runs around 80 percent each year), the annual loss due to bears being killed (because they are a nuisance to human beings or property), the number of bears that die each year due to natural causes, how many bears might be killed in vehicle collisions each year etc. Once they know the approximate number of bears in each hunting unit, and the loss of bears to all means except hunting, and the approximate annual recruiting rate due to births, they issue "x" number of permits, based on the number of bears they expect to be killed each year in relation to the number of bear hunting permits offered each year. They do this to keep the bear population within an approximate number of what either the habitat carrying capacity is, or what the social carrying capacity is.

Note: Half of the female bears in Minnesota die before they reach age 5, half of the males die by the time they are 3. Records for 2003 show that hunters in Minnesota killed 3,600 bears, that auto collisions killed 25 bears , and 20 bears were killed as nuisance bears.

If the DNR did not offer bear hunting permits, knowing that approximately 80% of all the bears that get killed each year are shot by hunters – the bear population could conceivably increase dramatically, causing habitat destruction in the northern areas (that are already stressed by wildfires, high winds and drought); and causing habitat destruction, farm animal depredation, and anxiety of humans in the more southerly regions. In other words, if bears were not hunted in Minnesota, they might seriously affect the habitat, and we might have a lot of scared or irate humans. To keep that from happening the DNR may issue up to 9,000 bear hunting permits each year, with approximately 3000 to 4000 bears harvested each year.

Hunters as Vital Game Mangement Tools

For those of you who want all bear hunting banned, please realize that the hunters of the state of Minnesota are doing the State a great service, because if they did not harvest as many bears as they did, there could be serious consequences to both the habitat, and to peoples gardens, houses and feelings of well being. No one wants to have hungry bears roaming around in their backyards. So, please realize that hunting is a greatly needed tool in wildlife management.

Let's Thank the Hunters

Instead of decrying hunting and hunters, Minnesota residents who do not hunt should be thanking our hunters. They are needed and do us a great service



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