Bears used to roam around Ohio in large numbers. While there are not as many bears in Ohio today, there is still a population of bears that call Ohio home.
Species of Bears in Ohio
The only bear species that lives in Ohio is the Black Bear (Ursus americanus). Before the settlers arrived in Ohio, there was a very healthy population of Black bears that used to roam throughout the state. Unfortunately, when the settlers arrived, hunting of these bears started to increase so the numbers fell.
The bears that were not hunted had to contend with a change of scenery and habitat, and some of these bears were shot. In the mid-1800s, the black bear was not living in Ohio due to hunting. Thankfully, there is now a population of Black Bears that live in southern, southeastern, eastern, and northeastern areas of Ohio.
About Bears in Ohio
The black bear that is found in Ohio can be found in other parts of continental North America. Even though these bears are known as ‘Black’ bears, that is not to say that all individuals are black. Some individuals may be a brown color, a blue color, or even a copper color. These bears do have a large nose, and this is a way of identifying this species from other species of bear like the Grizzly, as they have a smaller nose.
An adult black bear can weigh 700 pounds. Whilst this is on the higher end of the scale, a lot of males will weigh between 300-400 pounds. The females weigh a fair bit less, normally between 170-180 pounds. When males are standing up, they can be as tall as six feet and the females are normally around a foot smaller.
Black Bear Reproduction
The male black bear will often mate with several female partners. The female will also (not always) mate with a couple of different partners. The mating season tends to be for 5-6 weeks during June and July. A female black bear’s egg is not fertilized straight away, they are fertilized in December and the gestation period is around 6 weeks.
When a female has her first litter, it is normally just one cub. If the female has more litters, then there may be 3 cubs in that litter. Females usually have litters every other year. The sow and her cubs will stay in their den for around 3 months before they venture out.
The young will stay with their mother for the first 18 months of their lives. Black Bear cubs do grow quite quickly in the first year and they can weigh around 80 pounds by the time they go into their dens for the winter.
Habitat of Black Bears
Black Bears enjoy living in places like dense woodlands, wetlands, and swamps. Whilst it is perfectly normal to see these bears in open areas, they do prefer woodland. These bears do have a large home range that can cover 120 square miles for males and 50 square miles for females. There has been evidence of some bears being as far as 125 miles away from where they were born.
Black Bear Behavior
Black bears are crepuscular. This means that they are active first thing in the morning and late in the evening around dusk and at night. When bears live in areas where humans also live, then the bears will only tend to come out when the sun has gone down in the evening. They prefer to come out when the humans are not around.
Bears are omnivores, so they will eat grass, twigs, berries, and meat. They also like to eat insects and some trees like beech trees and hickory.
Tips for Dealing with Problem Black Bears
Some individuals can be a nuisance, especially when they are looking for food. There are some great tips about dealing with a nuisance bear. You need to bear-proof your backyard:
- Remove bird feeders, including hummingbird and suet feeders
- Store your garbage in a garage or a secure container
- Keep pet foods inside, especially at night
- Clean out grease traps on grills after each use; store grills in a garage or shed
- Place electric fencing around beehives
- Pick fruit from berry bushes as soon as possible
Is Bear Hunting Allowed in Ohio?
No. Hunting, trapping, and hurting a black bear in Ohio is strictly prohibited. Any person caught doing these activities will face stiff penalties.
Spotting Bears in Ohio
Have you come across any black bears in Ohio? We would love to know! Leave a comment below and share your experience.
There is a large variety of animals to be found in Ohio! Would you like to find out more about Hawks In Ohio, Beetles In Ohio, or Bats In Ohio? You can find tips about them here, and maybe find where you can spot them!