May 15, 2013
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) received 224 sightings reported from an estimated 93 black bears in 2012. Sixty-five of the 224 sightings reported were confirmed by ODNR Division of Wildlife personnel.
The number of total sightings in 2012 increased from 152 in 2011. Five black bears accounted for 62 sightings in 2012, although a majority of these were unconfirmed. The number of confirmed sightings is similar to recent years; 60 were confirmed in 2011 and 64 in 2010.
Twenty-one counties had confirmed sightings in 2012 from an estimated 35 bears. Northeast Ohio had the most sightings: Portage County had the most total sightings (36) and Trumbull County had the highest confirmed sightings (10). Portage County had six confirmed sightings, while Ashtabula, Geauga and Mahoning counties had five each.
There were 39 nuisance reports in 2012, and 17 were confirmed. Nuisance or destructive behavior includes damage to bird feeders, beehives and garbage containers.
Black bears were sighted during every month of 2012, and 80 percent of the sightings were reported from May to September. Three sightings of a sow with cubs were unconfirmed, and two sightings of lone cubs were also unconfirmed.
The black bear is native to Ohio and on the state’s endangered species list. All black bears in Ohio are protected by state law.
Black bears are usually fearful of people. Bears do not attack or kill children or pets as long as the bear is given its space and not cornered. Enjoy bears from a distance. People should remain calm if they see a bear, and they should not approach it. To report observations of black bears, contact the local county wildlife officer, district wildlife office or call 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543). Go to wildohio.com for more information about Ohio’s black bears.
Efforts to monitor black bears in Ohio are supported by the Endangered Species and Wildlife Diversity Fund, which receives donations through the sale of Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamps, the state income tax checkoff program and the purchase of cardinal license plates. More information is available at wildohio.com.
Black bears were considered extirpated from Ohio in the 1850s. Occasional reports increased into the 1980s, when they were reported annually. The ODNR Division of Wildlife began keeping formal records of observations in 1993. Since that time, bears have been reported in 59 and confirmed in 50 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Brown County, in southwest Ohio, had an unconfirmed sighting for the first time in 2012.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.