The 2-year-old male black bear that toured suburban Cincinnati in recent weeks to the delight of local residents and reporters continues to move east along the Ohio River, according to state wildlife officials.
Todd Haines, southwest district manager for the Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife, said on July 23 the bear was last sighted in eastern Clermont County, after spending a few days camped at East Fork State Park.
Haines believes the bear is likely headed for its “old Kentucky home” where it’s more likely to find female companionship.
“We feel like it’s getting ready to cross the river,” he said.
Black bear sightings are rare, but not unheard of in southwest Ohio.
This bear probably swam to Ohio from the Bluegrass State in search of a mate and breeding territory. Kentucky wildlife officials had reported a similar bear moving along their northern counties in the spring, according to Kathy Garza-Behr, Ohio DNR spokesperson.
June generally marks “dispersal” of young male black bears. Their mothers drive them away as they reach breeding age. Some travel hundreds of miles in search of a home territory.
First sightings around Cincinnati came in mid-June and provided Haines and his staff a public “teaching moment,” regarding black bear habits.
“It was good learning opportunity,” Haines said.
For about two-and-a-half weeks the bear remained inside the I-275 beltway, feasting on roadside deer carcasses, backyard bird feeders and garbage cans. Black bears are omnivores, meaning they eat just about anything, Haines noted.
Public sightings were frequent, sparking a media frenzy — and even a “Cincinnati bear” T-shirt.
Fortunately, the bear bothered no one as it nosed through neighborhoods of the Queen City.
“We had no negative reports,” Haines said. “It was just being a bear.”