Black Bear Sightings On The Rise In The Buckeye State

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A homeowner in Ravenna in Portage County said a black bear approached her house earlier this week when she was doing yard work.

Last September, thousands of people watched as authorities tried to capture the bear who made his home in a tree. The bear eventually made a run for it, right past the news cameras.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says black bear sightings aren’t entirely uncommon in the Buckeye State.

“We’ve had, in 2012, roughly 224 sightings,” said Karen Norris with ODNR.

Barth Montel and his family are avid campers. He said he’s spotted bears when hiking out west and in Canada.

“We just backed away and didn’t really take pictures or anything,” Montel said.

This week, the family pitched their tent at a state campground in Hocking County. Montel said he isn’t worried about spotting bears.

“No, we didn’t see any,” he said.

ODNR officials say black bear sightings in Ohio happen mostly between May and September, when young males are on the move, establishing their own territory.

While sightings in Ohio are rare, they do happen.

In the past year, there were eight black bear sightings in Noble County, seven in Ross County and four in Hocking County. One was even as close as Fairfield County.

In all, the 224 sightings across the state were from an estimated 93 black bears. Sixty-five of those sightings were confirmed through photos, paw prints and droppings.

Wildlife experts said that black bears are usually fearful of people. Experts say that that if you spot one, you should keep your distance.

“Observe them from a safe distance and then just quietly walk away,” Norris said. “You don’t want to corner them or agitate them in any way.”

Since the early 1990s, people have reported spotting black bears in 50 of Ohio’s 88 counties, including Franklin.

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