ATHENS -- According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW), 152 black bear sightings were reported in Ohio last year. Of that number, state wildlife personnel confirmed 60 sightings, which is a slight decrease compared to the 64 confirmed sightings in 2010.
The 2011 confirmed sightings occurred in 19 different counties and involved an estimated 38 different black bears. Most of the reported bear sightings were in northeastern counties. Ashtabula and Geauga counties led the state, reporting 20 and 22 sightings, respectively.
Sightings occurred in every month of 2011; however, the majority of bears were reported in May through August, which is the peak of black bear breeding and dispersal of young male bears.
Thirty-six of the 152 sightings involved destruction or nuisance behavior, such as damage to bird feeders, beehives and garbage containers. An estimated 20 individual bears were involved in these cases. Across the state there were four reported sightings of sows with cubs and one sighting of lone cubs.
For comparison, in 2010 state wildlife officials confirmed 64 of a total 164 black bear sightings. The confirmed sightings were in 23 counties and involved about 31 different black bears. A record of 165 bear sightings were reported in 2002.
The DOW began formally keeping records of black bear observations in 1993. Since that time, bears have been reported in 58 counties and confirmed in 50 of Ohio's 88 counties.
Native to Ohio, the black bear is listed as endangered in Ohio and protected by state law.