AKRON, OH - In 2009, 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 may not exactly increase in 2010, 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. Dan Kramer, wildlife management supervisor for northeast Ohio explained, "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." 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. During 2009, a total of 119 reported sightings of black bears occurred in 21 Ohio counties. Most sightings occurred in northeast and southeast Ohio. "In northeast Ohio specifically, a total of 35 confirmed sightings were reported in 11 counties. "Confirmed" sightings are defined by verified reports which means tracks, scat, or pictures for instance provide proof of bear activity. Ashtabula led the state with 27 sightings of which 8 were confirmed. Portage County closely followed with 14 sightings reported, of which five were confirmed.
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 pick up 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 purchase of cardinal license plates.