200-plus black bear sightings reported in Ohio

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources 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.

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. Sixty 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 with 36 and Trumbull County had the highest number of confirmed sightings with 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 also were 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 not approach it.