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DNR: Black bear spotted in southern Indiana likely to wake up from hibernation soon

Posted at 8:46 AM, Feb 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-15 00:33:04-05

MADISON, Ind. -- A black bear living in southern Indiana will wake up from hibernation soon.

According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the bear has been in hibernation in Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge since the beginning of the winter. It could emerge to find food or water as soon as mid-February.

The bear was spotted twice last summer in southern Indiana. According to the DNR, it swam through the Ohio River from Kentucky. 

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"Right now, the path of the bear is random. It goes north, south, east and west. We don't know where it's gonna end up," DNR Mammalogist Taylor Rasmussen said in August. 

The Indiana administrative code prohibits the killing of a black bear unless it's “destroying or causing substantial damage to property owned or leased by the landowner or tenant.” 

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The bear will most likely run from people if it sees them.

DNR offers the following tips for anybody living near the refuge:

  • Don’t intentionally feed bears. If a bear becomes accustomed to finding food near your home, it is likely to become a “problem” bear.
  • Place garbage cans inside a garage or shed.
  • Clean and store grills away after use.
  • Don’t leave pet food outside overnight.
  • Remove bird feeders and bird food from late March through November.
  • Don’t add meat or sweets to a compost pile.
  • If you encounter a bear, don’t run. Shout, wave your arms and back away slowly.
  • Collect and remove low-hanging or fallen fruit from fruit trees.
  • Eliminate meat, cooking oil, fish or fruit odors from near your home. This includes fish-meal fertilizers.
  • Collect and remove any ripened vegetables from your garden.
  • Protect bee hives through the use of electric fencing.

The bear is the second spotted in Indiana over the last year.

In 2015, conservation officers confirmed sightings of a black bear in northern Indiana – the first to be seen in the state in more than 140 years.

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That bear was eventually trapped in Stevensville, Michigan, and euthanized after it was determined it had become a threat to public safety.