VANDERBURGH COUNTY, Ind. — A black bear was spotted in southern Indiana Sunday morning.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources confirmed a black bear sighting in northeast Vanderburgh County before sunrise Sunday morning. The next closest town to the sighting was Elberfeld in Warrick County, which shares a border with Vanderburgh County.
DNR biologists confirmed the bear from photos taken by the landowner.
“This is Indiana’s fourth confirmed black bear,” said Brad Westrich, DNR mammalogist. "With expanding bear populations in neighboring states, this is expected."
Before 2015 the last confirmed report of a black bear in Indiana was in 1871. Then in 2015, a black bear entered the state at the Michigan border. Since then two other black bears have been confirmed in the state.
Westrich said this is a good time to learn how to avoid conflicts with black bears.
“Human-bear conflicts can be avoided if you remove or secure potential food sources from your yard," Westrich said. "Bears can smell food from more than a mile away.”
Black bears are rarely aggressive toward humans. However, anyone who sees a black bear should not feed it. The DNR said most problems that occur with bears arise when bears associate food sources with humans and lose their fear of people.
The DNR also advised people should not climb a tree if they see a bear. Instead, it's recommended to observe the bear from a distance and to announce your presence by shouting and waving your arms while slowly backing away.
Here are a few other guidelines the DNR listed for reducing or eliminating the potential for bear-human conflicts:
- Remove bird feeders and bird food if a bear is reported in your area.
- Clean and store away grills after use.
- Eliminate food attractants by placing garbage cans inside a garage or shed.
- Pick ripe fruits and vegetables as soon as possible or place an electric fence around them to ensure bears cannot reach them.
- Consolidate beehives you may have and place an electric fence around them.
- Don't leave pet food outside overnight.
- Don't add meat or sweets to a compost pile.
- Don't climb a tree if you encounter a bear; wait in a vehicle or building for the bear to leave the area.
Bear sightings can be reported to the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife online.