STRASBURG (WJER) (July 28, 2023) – At least one black bear is wandering around northern Tuscarawas County, but Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials says that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
The Division of Wildlife has received four reports of black bears in the county. Wildlife Research Technician Lauri Brown says they were able to confirm one with a trail camera photo taken just east of Strasburg.
WJER listener Bob Preston of New Philadelphia says he encountered a black bear in the Strasburg area while driving north on I-77 around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“Out of the corner of my eye I saw something black running across the southbound lanes of 77… In my thought process, I’m like, ‘It’s black. That’s not a deer. It must be a dog.’ It came up the swale and ran right in front of me full tilt, and it was a black bear.
“It wasn’t huge, but it was definitely a young adult. It certainly wasn’t a cub. I can’t tell you weight or size, but he wasn’t small and he was fast.”
Brown says this is the tail end of the bear’s mating season when they usually get reports of sightings. She says some black bears will travel 100 miles seeking a mate.
In the past, they almost always came from Pennsylvania, but Brown says they now are aware of a number of black bears living in Ohio.
“We know for a fact that we have bears that live here year-round in Ohio. Most of our bear sightings occur in the northern part of our district, so up in Ashtabula County and Trumbull County… We typically do get reports in Tuscarawas County. It’s not uncommon by any means.
“I wouldn’t say we have a ton of bears in Ohio, but as the years go on, I think that we have more bears taking up residence here in our state. We have confirmed reports of sows with cubs in Ashtabula and Trumbull counties. We know that we’ve had bears traditionally in Jefferson, Harrison, and Tuscarawas counties.”
She says the bears keep to themselves, and people should give them space. They do like garbage and bird food, though.
“Black bears are typically not aggressive to people. The biggest thing is don’t feed them.
“If you know you have one in the area, if you have a bird feeder up, the best thing to do is to take it down. They love birdseed. That tends to be the number one report that we have with bears here in Ohio. They love bird feeders.”
Brown wants people to report bear sightings, bobcat sightings, and other interesting wildlife sightings on the ODNR Division of Wildlife website – Ohiodnr.gov .