One hundred-nineteen black bear sightings were reported in Ohio last year, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. Of that number, state wildlife personnel confirmed 51 of those sightings, an increase compared to the 38 confirmed sightings in 2008.
The confirmed sightings of 2009 occurred in 21 different counties and involved an estimated 31 different black bears, the Division of Wildlife reported.
Sightings occurred in every month of 2009 except January. The majority of bears were reported May through August, which is the peak of black bear breeding and dispersal of young male bears.
Forty-five of the 119 sightings involved damage or nuisance behavior, such as damage to bird feeders, beehives, and garbage containers. An estimated 25 individual bears were involved in these cases.
Most of the reported bear sightings were in northeastern and south-central counties. Ashtabula County led the state reporting 27 sightings.
Across the state there were four reported sightings of sows with cubs and two sightings of lone cubs.
For comparison, in 2008 state wildlife officials confirmed 38 of a total 105 black bear sightings. The confirmed sightings were in 11 counties and involved about 29 different black bears. A record 165 bear sightings were reported in 2002.
The Division of Wildlife began formally keeping records of black bear observations in 1993. Since that time, bears have been confirmed in 50 of Ohio's 88 counties.
Efforts to monitor the 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. Individuals wanting to donate to the fund can also donate online at www.wildohio.com
The black bear is listed as endangered in Ohio and protected by state law.