June, July peak months for bears

MARIETTA – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is reminding residents that June and July are peak months for bear movement.

“The young male bears kicked out by their moms are trying to find a place to stay,” said Jim Hill, wildlife management supervisor for southeast Ohio.

“Young females also are kicked out, but they don’t venture as far as the males to find a place to settle down.”

Eric Bear, wildlife officer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in Athens, said because the black bear is an endangered species in Ohio and protected by federal law, residents should report any possible bear sighting to him by calling (740) 589-9998. ODNR wants to be able to track them as they move across the state, he said.

Bear said he uses tracks, hairs, skat or other signs to help him confirm a bear has been spotted in the location.

Most of the counties surrounding Washington County have reported at least one bear sighting in recent months, both confirmed and unconfirmed, Hill said. Washington County has not reported any bear sightings.

ODNR advises people to enjoy bears from a distance. Bears usually are not dangerous to people or other animals.

“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,” according to www2.ohiodnr.gov.

Remain calm, and don’t approach the bear, ODNR advises.

One of Meigs County’s sightings, however, was a bear killed by a vehicle, Hill said.

The young males can travel 20 to 50 miles in a single day, he said.

In 2012, 224 sightings of black bears were confirmed in 21 Ohio counties. So far, this year, the number of sightings seem to be typical, Hill said. The ODNR website report 152 sightings in 2011, and 60 were confirmed.

Ross County in south central Ohio reported the most sightings at three in ODNR’s southeast Ohio region.

In early May, law enforcement in Parkersburg received several reports of a black bear walking around the city limits. Officers found and killed the bear just after midnight May 1.