AKRON, Ohio — In 2010, approximately 31 different black bears were confirmed in the Buckeye State according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. While the population of Ohio’s largest mammal, a state endangered species, may not exactly increase in 2011, sightings of the burly creatures are expected to rise in the summer months.
During spring and summer months, young male black bears disperse on a quest to find their own territory.
“Dispersal occurs annually when an adult female bear (referred to as a sow) boots her one-and-a-half year old cubs out of the family unit so she can breed and raise a new litter of cubs,” said Scott Peters, wildlife management assistant supervisor for northeast Ohio.
Young females have smaller ranges and seldom venture as far as males to establish territories. The Division of Wildlife estimates the Buckeye bear population at about 60 black bears living in Ohio year-round.
In 2010, a total of 164 reported sightings of black bears occurred in 23 Ohio counties. Most sightings occurred in northeast and southeast Ohio. In northeast Ohio specifically, a total 86 sightings were reported in 15 counties. Biologists estimate the sightings to be of 15 different black bears.
Portage County led the state with 13 sightings followed closely by both Ashtabula and Trumbull counties with 12 reported sightings each.
Every year, many bear reports in Ohio are associated with nuisance situations. Once people become “beareducated” conflicts with bears often diminish.
Moving bird feeders higher, keeping trash inside until pickup day, and cleaning up after grilling out all help to deter bears from becoming nuisances.
Efforts to monitor the Ohio black bear have been supported by the Wildlife Diversity and Endangered Species fund, which receives donations from Ohioans through the state income tax check-off program and by the purchases of cardinal license plates and Wildlife Legacy Stamps.
The black bear is protected by state law. For more about Ohio’s wildlife diversity, visit the Division’s web page at www.wildohio.com or call 1-800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).