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Science and Environment

Indiana Black Bear Awakes From Hibernation


Officials say the black bear last spotted in July appears to be out of hibernation and roaming Indiana again.

Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge officials spotted the bear last week. They say he’s still in the area near Jefferson, Jennings and Ripley counties.

Refuge Manager Joe Robb says the bear likely swam across the Ohio River from Kentucky last year.

“The bear is probably out of hibernation now, out from its slumber trying to get something to eat and looking for food that’s available,” he says.

Taylor Rasmussen, a mammologist from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, says humans are not allowed the harm the bear.The young black bear has acted shy, running away when it sees humans. Robb says the bear is likely a young male and says he is not looking for confrontation.

“As of right now in the state, black bears are listed as an exotic mammal which means they do have protection in the state, Rasmussen says. “So the black bear cannot be harmed unless it is destroying either your personal property or if it is trying to harm you or your personal property.”

Robb suggests keeping garbage, birdfeeders and any sources of food inside, saying black bears only become a problem when fed by humans.

Officials say the bear will most likely return to Kentucky for mating season sometime this summer.

This is only the second black bear to be spotted in Indiana since the 1870s. A black bear spotted throughout the state in 2015 was caught and euthanized in Michigan in April 2016.

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