Oswald's Bear Ranch in Newberry is open for the season, and visitors are, once again, allowed to take pictures with the bears. In 2012, the public was not allowed to touch the cubs, but now that's no longer the case.
The ranch, located just north of Newberry, is a tourist hot spot, offering a unique experience with black bear cubs.
"I was excited to go in there. I had never come that close to a bear before. The cubs were very cute," said Erin Young, visiting from West Bloomfield, Michigan near Detroit. This is Erin's first visit to the ranch.
In 2012, that experience was taken away. For nearly 30 years, the ranch has allowed the public to touch and take pictures with bear cubs, but last summer the US Fish and Wildlife Service began enforcing the Large Carnivore Act which put a stop to normal operations, saying that the cubs were too old to allow the public direct contact. Tourists could look, but not touch.
Karen Jacobs and her family from Kenosha, Wisconsin have made the trip every year since 1989, and she recalls how 2012 just wasn't the same.
"Sad, it was very sad, but we're so happy that the State of Michigan allowed that again," said Jacobs.
The Large Carnivore Act has since been amended, and thousands of tourists from around the world are taking advantage.
"People have said, 'You've made my whole vacation being able to touch a cub bear here.' Some of them have said, 'You made my whole week, my whole year.' It's been a great response," said ranch owner, Dean Oswald.
There are three cubs at the ranch named Ella, Kendra, and Cindy. You can only feed and take pictures with one at a time because they're too active and playful for all three at the same time. They'll play with just about anything. When taking pictures, food helps them behave.
"They are so delightful to watch, and we really really like the cubs. Every year we get our picture taken with them," Jacobs said.
Jacobs says she and her family will be back again next year.
The ranch is currently home to 27 bears, including the three cubs.