ODNR logoLast year, approximately 74 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 2014, sightings of black bears are expected to rise in the summer months.

“Dispersal of sub adult male bears occurs annually, typically a result of being driven off by their mother as she prepares for the breeding season,” explains Jim Hill, wildlife management supervisor for southeast Ohio. “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 2013, a total of 158 reported sightings of black bears occurred in 35 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.