In Ohio, bears are not just going over the mountains they also are traversing the Lake Erie shoreline.
Not surprising then the number of black bear sightings continue to grow, even in Northeast Ohio.
Perhaps, especially in Northeast Ohio, too.
A recent incident within the past few weeks came from Lake Metroparks. It seems a black bear had visited the home of the parks system's biologist who lives at the agency's 84-acre Lakeshore Reservation in North Perry Village.
On returning home the biologist discovered that his bird feeders were demolished with confirmation the culprit being a bear came from the scat the bruin left behind.
Yet such sightings are far from being rare, certainly they are more common than even just a few years ago.
Last year the Ohio Division of Wildlife recorded a whopping 224 black bear sightings of which 65 were confirmed.
Sighting confirmation comes via some form of documentation such a digital photograph from a trail camera or by an inspection and verification by a Wildlife Division official.
A breakdown of the raw total sightings included reports from 36 counties.
Leading the pack was Portage County with 36 sightings. This figure was followed by the 22 reports from Trumbull County and the 20 reports from Ashtabula County.
Geauga County's black bear sighting tally numbered 17, Lake County registered 10 sightings, and Cuyahoga County was scored with six sightings.
In 2011, the Wildlife Division received a total of 152 sightings from 32 of Ohio's 88 counties. Of the 152 figure, 60 sightings were confirmed.
Among the totals were 22 for Geauga County (the most for any county in the state). 20 for Ashtabula County, nine each for Lake and Trumbull counties, and four for Cuyahoga County.
While it is important to remember the majority of these reports were multiple sightings of bears that spent a lot of time moving about, the figures do strongly suggest that Ohio
is increasingly becoming a place where representatives of the species are at least visiting.
Likely too a goodly number of the bears observed or reported are spill-overs from Pennsylvania, mostly young males looking for a place to set up their own territory.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn