VANDERBURGH CO. — A black bear was spotted in southern Indiana this weekend, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
The bear was seen around sunrise on Sunday morning in Vanderburgh County, about 15 miles north of Evansville. The landowner was able to snap a picture of the bear and sent it to the DNR.
From that photo, biologists were able to confirm it as a black bear. Which, according to the DNR, is expected to happen more and more as the bear population expands in neighboring states.
This is the fourth confirmed black bear sighting in Indiana since 1871.
Black bears had once flourished in Indiana, excluding the northwest region. According to the DNR, unregulated hunting and habitat loss eradicated Indiana and much of the Midwest by 1850.
The first black bear sighting in Indiana since they were extirpated was recorded in 1871 at the Michigan border. The second was in 2015 in St. Joseph County. In 2016 a bear was confirmed to have been roaming Harrison, Washington and Clark Counties. And in 2018, a black bear was struck by a driver in Floyd County, where he was later spotted in Memphis, Indiana.
According to officials, black bears are rarely aggressive toward humans.
“Human-bear conflicts can be avoided if you remove or secure potential food sources from your yard. Bears can smell food from more than a mile away," Brad Westrich, a DNR mammalogist, stated.
"Most problems that occur with bears arise when bears associate food sources with humans and lose their fear of people," a statement from DNR read.
If you see a black bear:
- Do not feed it.
- Observe it from a distance.
- Do not climb a tree.
- Advertise your presence by shouting and waving your arms and backing slowly away.
- Report bear sightings to the Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife
How to reduce or eliminate the potential for bear-human conflict:
- Remove bird feeders and bird food if a bear is reported in your area.
- Clean and store away grills after use.
- Eliminate food attractants by placing garbage cans inside a garage or shed.
- Pick ripe fruits and vegetable as soon as possible or place an electric fence around them to ensure bears cannot reach them.
- Consolidate beehives you may have and place an electric fence around them.
- Don't leave pet food outside overnight.
- Don't add meat or sweets to a compost pile.
- Don't climb a tree if you encounter a bear; wait in a vehicle or building for the bear to leave the area.