Ohio Black Bear: Sightings Down Last Year
According to the ODNR, black bear sightings actually decreased for the 2014 year.
ODNR: Ohio black bear sightings decreased in 2014, according to reports received by Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) biologists. The ODNR Division of Wildlife documented 135 sightings involving an estimated 88 individual black bears in 2014. In 2013, 158 sightings were received from an estimated 74 black bears.
Division of Wildlife biologists were able to confirm 60 of the 135 sightings in 2014, or 44 percent. This is an increase from 2013, when 34 percent of sightings were confirmed. Sightings are confirmed by evidence such as tracks or photos.
• Two reports were received of a sow with cubs, both in Athens County. One sighting was confirmed; the observer was able to take a picture of the second young bear, which appeared to be a yearling.
• Ashtabula and Trumbull counties reported the most sightings, with 21 each. Ashtabula had 14 confirmed sightings, and Trumbull had 13.
• Most sightings were reported from May through July (52 percent).
• Sightings were reported in 43 counties. Most counties were in northeast Ohio.
• The first verified sightings for Hamilton County occurred in 2014.
Full Report Below:
Division of Wildlife Summary of 2014 Black Bear Observations in Ohio
ODNR Division of Wildlife Procedure 6 and the “Black Bear Observation Report” form provide the basis for tracking, reporting, and summarizing sightings of black bears in Ohio. In 2014, 135 sightings involving an estimated 88 individual black bears were received (Table 1).
ODNR: Table 1
This represents a decrease in the total number of sightings from 158, but an increase in the number of individuals from 74 in 2013. The number of individual bears is a subjective judgment. The number and percentage of confirmed sightings (confirmed by evidence such as tracks, photos, etc.) was higher than that of the previous year. Sixty (44%) of the 135 sightings were confirmed by Division of Wildlife personnel (Table 1).
Likewise the number of individuals was higher than in 2013. The number of counties involved, however, was comparable to that of the previous year. These 60 sightings represented an estimated 42 bears in 20 counties. For comparison, in 2013, 54 (34%) of 158 sightings were confirmed for an estimated 28 bears in 23 counties.
ODNR: Table 2
Although the number one source for verification of bear sightings was trail camera pictures (Table 2; n = 18, 30%),photographs and video taken by eye witnesses, along with tracks and damage that could only be caused by a bear collectively accounted for over half ofthe verified sightings (Table 2; n = 31; 51.7%). A higher number and percentage of nuisance complaints compared to that of the previous year was received. Thirty-four (26%) of the 135 observations involved nuisance situations (Table 1).
These 34 complaints involved an estimated 28 individual bears in 10
counties. For comparison, 25 (16%) of the 158 observations during 2013 included nuisance situations, which involved an estimated 17 individual bears in 9 counties. During 2014, 20 of
the nuisance sightings were confirmed for 18 individual bears in 7 counties (Table 1). Nuisance
bear situations recorded during 2014 included damaging beehives at apiaries (15), raiding bird feeders (13), eating from garbage cans and dumpsters (3), and damaging structures or property
(3). Two bears died as a result from being struck by vehicles, one each in Mahoning and
Washington counties. Black bear sightings were received during every month in 2014. Fifty-two percent of the sightings were reported from May through July coincident with peak black bear breeding activity and dispersal of juvenile males. There were 2 sightings of a sow traveling with
juveniles, and 10 additional sightings of lone cubs. There was a sighting of a sow with 1 juvenile
and another of a sow with 2 juveniles, both from Athens County. The sighting of the sow with 2
juveniles was confirmed; the observer was able to take a picture of the 2nd young bear, which
appeared to be a yearling. Bear sightings were reported in 43 Ohio counties during 2014 (Table 1). Most sightings (55%) were in Wildlife District 3 (northeastern Ohio) counties. Formal sightings from 1993through present show bear observations in 64 predominately eastern and south-central
counties (Fig. 1).
ODNR: Figure 1
Black bear sightings have been confirmed in 53 of the 64 counties since 1993 (Fig. 2). The first confirmed sightings for Hamilton County occurred during 2014.
ODNR: Figure 2
Compared with the 10-year average (141), 2014 was a fairly average year for black bear sightings, and the overall trend is increasing (Fig. 3).
ODNR: Figure 3