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Environment & Energy

ODNR Reports Increased Black Bear Sightings

a photo of a black bear
Black bears are considered endangered in Ohio

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources recently reported an increase in black bear sightings in northeast Ohio. Jamey Emmert of the ODNR said this is typical for the summer months in the area as young cubs leave their mothers. Bears have been spotted in Lake, Geauga, and Ashtabula counties. She said most of them are young males who aren’t usually aggressive.

“When given the opportunity to fight or to flee, they will absolutely flee. So, if someone encounters a black bear the best approach to take is to clap your hands, shout at the bear, and scare it away. Don’t run away from it because it is a predator so it might be encouraged to pursue.”

Experts say there are only 50 to 100 bears in Ohio and residents should report any activity they see in their area.

Mike Sustin, who teaches science classes at West Geauga High School in Chesterland, said Ohio typically doesn't have that many bears. He described the bears currently being encountered as young and “still learning”.

Sustin says young cubs are the ones typically spotted in more populated areas.

“They’re not experts at being a bear. They know what’s delicious and what’s not and they generally know how to get it, but they don’t make great decisions and that’s when they show up in people’s backyards.”

Sustin said residents can help protect the endangered bears by keeping anything that might be seen as food -- like birdseed and pet food -- inside the house throughout the summer. He said birds can find lots of food naturally through the summer.