COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- People living in the Cincinnati-area have been keeping track of a black bear that's made its way into Ohio from Kentucky. Sightings have been reported in Clermont and Hamilton Counties.
"He's getting a hard lesson in life in being around people, that's for sure," said Brett Beatty with the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
Another bear was reported, along with a photo on Facebook, in Pike County. However, Beatty says sightings in Ohio have leveled off or have been declining in recent years. The number of reports usually spike around this time of year because young bears are on the move.
"You have a young teenager, if you will, of a black bear out roaming around trying to find his own territory," Beatty said.
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.
While ODNR doesn't track bears with monitoring devices, they do plot out maps of bear-sighting reports to try and predict where they may head next. Beatty says bears can cover a lot of territory in a short amount of time.
When a sighting is reported, an ODNR officer will go out an confirm the report either through photos or tracks left by the bear.
If you see a bear, Beatty suggests you enjoy watching it, but don't get close and don't try to scare the bear away. It's also a good idea to remove bird feeders and eliminate food from your trash if a bear is sighted in your area. He says bears are driven by their stomaches and will go where they can find food.
As for the bear in Cincinnati, Beatty thinks it will probably eventually make its way back across the Ohio River to Kentucky. As for trapping or tranquilizing the bear to move it away from people, Beatty says that's not really an option. Bears are tough to trap and when darted they will run and become agitated.
"I don't think he's a real threat and he still has an opportunity to find his way out which I think is the best course of action for everybody."
(Photo courtesy ODNR)