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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Bears In Ohio

     Historically, black bears roamed Ohio, but unregulated hunting and habitat loss rendered bears extirpated from Ohio by 1850. Today, Ohio is again home to a small but growing population of black bears. Ohio’s bear population is estimated to be anywhere from 50-100 individual bears. 
     Most black bears range in size from 100 to 400 pounds, are 5 to 6 feet in length and average 3 feet high at the shoulder. The majority of bears in Ohio weigh between 125-250 pounds and are juvenile male bears. Dispersing young black bears will often travel great distances in search of new habitat and they are the ones that are most likely to be seen by or interact with humans. 
     Black bears, an endangered species in Ohio, are generally docile, unlike brown bears, which tend to be more confrontational. One Ohio wildlife official official likened them to “overgrown raccoons.” Like all wild animals, they can still be dangerous.  Woman killed by black bear.
     Because bears tend to travel a long distance over a short period of time, it is likely that a bear that has been spotted in one county is the same one that has been spotted several counties away. Bear sightings tend to peak around July 4 and slow down as summer winds down. They tend to be more active at dawn, dusk and at night. 
     Most are young male bears coming from eastern Pennsylvania to avoid conflicts with larger bears back home or they have been run off by their mothers who are breeding again. Sometimes though they often run into traffic, humans and barking dogs that make them uncomfortable, and many end up heading back where they came from. 

     Although bears tend to move away from people, they might lash out at humans if they are cornered, or if they lose their fear of humans by associating them with food. For that reason, people should secure their trash cans, keep barbecue grills clean and shouldn’t leave pet food or bird feeders outside. People feeding a bear in Oregon caused the bear to lose its life. The story
     Black bears are usually fearful of people, therefore bear attacks are a rare occurrence. They do not attack or kill children or pets as long as the bear is given its space and not cornered. Wildlife experts recommend that if you encounter a bear you should: 

* Act calm and do not run. You can’t outrun one anyway. Black bears are extremely agile and are able to run up to 35 mph, climb trees with ease and swim long distances. A fast human can only run at about 20.5 miles per hour, but if you’re old, fat and/or out of shape you won’t even top out at that speed. Always avoid running or climbing trees which may provoke a chase. 
* Warn the bear that you are near; talk in a firm, calm voice. Not sure about this, maybe they speak English? Avoid direct eye contact. If you're a New Yorker and ride the subway you'll understand the importance of this bit of advice.
* Allow space between you and the bear. Step aside and back slowly away. Do not make the bear feel trapped or threatened. 
* Raise your hands above your head to appear larger if the bear approaches. Clap your hands or shout to scare the bear away. 
* Exit the area.

     Bears are omnivores, meaning they will eat a wide variety of foods. Depending on the season, their diet may include grasses, berries, mast from oak, hickory, and beech trees, carrion, and insect larvae. Bears will also consume agricultural crops, if available. 
     Black bears can cause significant damage while in search of an easy meal. A problem bear can be defined as an animal that has lost its natural fear of humans and habitually causes property damage while in search of food. They’ll go for dird feeders and other wildlife feed, trash receptacles, pet foods, grease from grills, beehives, crops, berry bushes, anything. 
     The Ohio Division of Wildlife does not relocate bears just because one is present in an area. Bears live in Ohio year round. They will continue to come back to a location if food sources are available to them. Hazing the bear off is the first step in dealing with nuisance bears. Black bears are only relocated if it is determined 1) the animal is in a situation where escape is unlikely, 2) it is a threat to public safety, or 3) a sociological conflict is probable

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