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The measure would amend Michigan’s Large Carnivore Act by letting patrons at certain animal care facilities come into direct contact with a bear less than 36 weeks or weighing less than 90 pounds.
The bill stems from an Upper Peninsula bear ranch which last year had to discontinue allowing visitors to pose for photos while feeding black bear cubs, because it was against state law. Bear ranchers argue that allowing people to interact with cubs is a vital part of their business.
But the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in Michigan opposes the legislation, saying it, “puts both animals and people in serious jeopardy.” The AZA says when young bears become used to people, they can become an even greater hazard to the public and law enforcement officials when they become adult bears.
The bill now goes to Governor Snyder for his signature.
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