The camera nestled in the branches of a Michigan forest treetop was meant to give us an intimate look into the domestic life of a newly expanded eagle family. Instead, we caught a glimpse of a dark figure stalking the forest floor, stoking fears of Bigfoot. But the dark, stooped figure could simply be a starving bipedal bear.
Here’s what the footage, shot in Platte River State Fish Hatchery, 30 miles west of Traverse City, shows: On the ground beneath a nest of eaglets is a tall, bipedal entity that walks, fairly comfortably, among fallen branches. It appears to be entirely black. At one point, a large log blocks its path; steadying itself on a nearby tree, it skillfully leaps over the log and continues trudging deliberately down its path.
Barring the possibility that it is, indeed, the legendary monster, could it be … a bear? Well, sure: According to Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, the state home to roughly 15,000 to 19,000 black bears — 90 percent of which are in the state’s northern reaches — where Platte River State Fish Hatchery is located. Black bears normally walk on all fours, but they have been known to walk upright to get a better look at things. Is this maybe-bear scoping out its next snack? The amount of time it spends on its hind legs seems extraordinarily long, but malnourished bears have been known to go bipedal for longer.
In 2015, footage of a black bear that walked like a human went viral, but later shown to be evidence of malnourishment. As The Dodo reported, it’s likely that the bear — which is thought to have been rescued by Laotian wildlife rangers from an illegal, inhumane “bile farm” — was so malnourished (you can tell by its short legs, small body, and large head) that it was easier for it to walk on its hind legs. Indeed, the starved Laos bear walked fairly comfortably, not unlike Michigan’s maybe-bear, although it strode with far less confidence, as we can see below.
Michigan’s black bears were so numerous that they were once considered pests. Their numbers have fallen a bit, but they are now considered a “prized game species,” part of the state’s mission to “provide Michigan citizens with a diversity of bear-related recreational opportunities.” That they are increasingly being seen in the southern half of the state’s lower peninsula suggests that they’re migrating more in search for food; as humans take over their natural habitat (with, y’know, guns), it shouldn’t be too surprising if we find out that the so-called Bigfoot really is a hungry bear.