Did you know? The Black Bear is Ohio’s largest carnivore, measuring anywhere between 150 to 700 pounds, and when standing upright, can reach up to six feet tall.
The black bear is the most common species of bear in North America. The name “black” bear can be somewhat misleading as this species appears in a range of color phases that include black, chocolate brown, cinnamon brown, blue-black, and even white. Its face, in profile, can be straight or Roman-nosed, a distinguishing characteristic that helps differentiate it from the dish-faced grizzly and Alaskan brown bears.
Black bears can be found from coast to coast throughout North America in a wide variety of the more heavily wooded habitats, ranging from swamps and wetlands to dry upland hardwood and coniferous forests, from the Yukon and Northwest Territory in Canada to the northern portions of Mexico. Although they will utilize open areas, bears prefer wooded cover with a dense understory.
Bears have a large home range and travel a great deal. Studies in other states indicate the home range of adult males to be 100 to 120 square miles in upland hardwood habitats, 24 to 50 square miles for females. Movements of 125 miles from a denning site have been documented.
This endangered species occurs in forested habitats throughout the eastern half of Ohio. In 2013, there were 158 documented sightings involving an estimated 74 individual black bears compared to 224 sightings in 2012 with an estimated 93 individual black bears. The Ohio Division of Wildlife confirmed 34 percent of 2013 sightings, which is an increase from 29 percent in 2012. Twenty-two sightings were reported in Trumbull County; more than any other county. Trumbull and Portage counties had the most confirmed sightings with seven.
Although black bears inhabited Ohio prior to settlement of the region, unregulated hunting and the extensive deforestation that occurred by the mid-1800s as farms, towns, and industry were established resulted in a sizable reduction in the number of bears residing within the state’s borders. Those bears that remained following this drastic change in habitat were either shot or trapped to protect livestock and crops from depredation. By the 1850s, black bears were considered extirpated from Ohio. However, occasional reports of their presence, particularly in south-central and southeastern Ohio, persisted and, in 1973, included a report of a sow (female) with cubs (offspring).
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is currently monitoring and studying the slowly recovering Black Bear. Black Bears are protected in Ohio and hunting them is prohibited.
Best Viewing Opportunities
Forested Areas in Northeast Ohio (Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Trumbull, & Tuscarawas counties)
Fun Facts About Black Bears
• Black bears are crepuscular, meaning they are active early in the morning and late in the evening.
• Bears are omnivores; they will eat a variety of foods from fruits and grasses to meat.
• Black Bears are born blind and only weigh eight ounces.
Information on this page was gathered from the below website.
For more information on the American Beaver and other important Ohio wildlife visit http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/species-and-habitats/species-guide-index