Black Bear Sightings Increase in Southeast Ohio
by Wayne Allen
ATHENS, OH – Last year, approximately 65 different black bears were confirmed in the Buckeye State according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. While the population of Ohio’s largest mammal may not exactly increase in 2013, sightings of black bears are expected to rise in the summer months.
During spring and summer months, young male black bears disperse to find their own territory. Jim Hill, wildlife management supervisor for southeast Ohio explains, “Dispersal occurs annually when an adult female bear drives her one-and-a-half year old cubs out of the family unit so she can breed and raise a new litter of cubs.” Young females have smaller ranges and seldom venture as far as males to establish territories.
If a bear is sighted, individuals should contact the Division of Wildlife District Office (740.589.9930) to report the sighting, and then leave the bear alone. Every year, some bear reports in Ohio are associated with nuisance situations. When people remove potential food sources, conflicts with bears often diminish. Moving bird feeders higher, removing uneaten pet food, keeping trash inside until pick up day, and cleaning up after grilling out all help to deter bears from frequenting an area and becoming nuisances.
During 2012, a total of 224 reported sightings of black bears occurred in 21 Ohio counties. Most sightings occurred in northeast and southeast Ohio. “Confirmed” sightings are defined by verified reports, which could mean tracks, scat, or pictures, that provide proof of bear activity.
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.
The black bear is listed as an endangered species in Ohio and protected by state law.
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