It's that time of year when Ohio sees the most movement in terms of black bears, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Officials with ODNR confirmed receiving reports of black bear sightings in various parts of the state, including Belmont, Muskingum, and Ross counties, in recent days.
"This is the time of year that mother bears have their new cubs, so they're kicking their older bears out of the den," said Lindsay Rist, a communications specialist with ODNR.
Rist described the black bear activity as generally 2-year-old males who are in search of their own territory and a female bear.
"Some of them will travel great distances in search of a female bear, a lot of times not finding one since we don't have a huge population in Ohio, and then they turn around and travel back through where they came from."
In fact, Rist said ODNR's biologist last estimated Ohio's bear population to range from 50-100. Most sightings occur in northeast Ohio due to an established population in Pennsylvania, said Rist.
According to ODNR, Ohio's black bears generally weigh between 125-250 pounds and can run up to 35 miles per hour, but they are typically fearful of people.
ODNR offers the following tips for those who encounter a black bear:
- Act calm and do not run.
- Warn the bear that you are near; talk in a firm, calm voice.
- Allow space between you and the bear; step aside and back slowly away; do not make the bear feel trapped or threatened.
- Raise your hands above your head to appear larger if the bear approaches; clap your hands or shout to scare the bear away.
- Exit the a
Additionally, ODNR recommends Ohio residents keep their properties free of potential food attractants such as bird feeders, pet foods, trash receptacles, and grill grease. Officials said bears will continue to come to a location if food sources are available to them.
"That helps us with the (black bear) population estimate of Ohio," said Rist.