By Patricia Beech
A black bear was recently sighted in northern Adams County.
Even though black bears are reclusive animals, their slowly increasing numbers in the southern Ohio area have led to more frequent sightings. According to wildlife authorities, the majority of bears spotted in southern Ohio are juvenile males searching for new habitats.
Ranging in size from 100-400 pounds, black bears are agile climbers and swimmers that can run up to 35 mph.
The people in southern Ohio are not really accustomed to having bears as neighbors. However, it appears that the bears are here to stay, and therefore people need to learn how to coexist with them.
Black bears are omnivores, meaning they take a smorgasbord approach to their diet which consists of grasses, berries, carrion, insect larvae, agricultural crops and human garbage, if available.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, black bears can cause significant damage while in search of an easy meal.
If a person’s yard is being visited by a black bear, there are several things that must be done to ensure that the animal doesn’t become a “problem bear.” one that has lost its natural fear of humans and habitually causes property damage while in search of food.
In this instance, all potential food sources must be removed from the area. This includes: Bird feeders and other wildlife feeders, trash receptacles, pet foods, grease from grills, beehives (should be surrounded by electric fence) and crops, especially berries.
According to the ODNR, black bears are usually fearful of people, therefore bear attacks are a rare occurrence. The first thing to do when someone sees a bear is remain calm.
Generally, black bears are non-aggressive and prefer to flee from the area as soon as they are aware of your presence. If a person encounters a bear, and it is not aware of his or her presence, he or she should simply back away from the area slowly. If the bear is aware of a person’s presence and it does not leave the area, people should avoid direct eye contact with the animal, give the bear an easy escape route, and simply back slowly away from the area.
The ODNR uses the acronym AWARE to teach the correct method for dealing with black bears: Act calm and do not run; Warn the bear that you are near; talk in a firm, calm voice; Allow space between you and the bear, step aside and back slowly away; 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.
Call the Division of Wildlife at 1-800-Wildlife to report any sighting.
Reach Patricia Beech at 937-544-2391 or at [email protected]