CLEVELAND: A booming black bear population in neighboring states is pushing more bears into Ohio.
The number of sightings in Ohio is on the rise and expected to increase in coming years, wildlife experts say. Ohio’s Division of Wildlife says black bear sightings have jumped from only about 30 in 1998 to 152 a year ago.
Most have been found in the eastern half of the state, but some have been tracked as far west as Dayton.
Bears in search of their own territories are coming from Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and young males are known to wander more than 100 miles.
“They’re just like teenage boys,” said state wildlife research biologist Suzie Prange. “They’re out there on their own for the first time and they’re looking for a girlfriend.”
State wildlife officials estimate that there are 50 to 100 black bears living in Ohio, but most of those spotted are young males. Those are the ones that are more likely to get into trouble by going into neighborhoods and knocking over garbage cans and bird feeders, Prange said.
A young black bear was spotted last week in suburban Cleveland outside an apartment building.