Tuscarawas county’s transient black bears soak up the spotlight
DENNISON (WJER) (July 14, 2022) – Tuscarawas County’s wildlife officer says bears sighted in the area are more afraid of you than you are of them. However, these bears don’t seem to be afraid of the camera.
Mike Budd says black bear sightings in Tuscarawas County are not unusual, but there have been more this year. That might be because of the behavior of these particular animals.
“Each bear has a different personality and how they act,” Budd said. “At least one of these particular bears seems to like to be seen, so he’s out moving around more and definitely putting on some miles wandering around.”
Budd asks people to report bear sightings online at wildohio.gov.
A northern bear and a southern bear
Budd suspects there are two bears roaming the area, one in the south around Dennison and Uhrichsville, and another north around Strasburg, Beach City, and Bolivar.
“They kind of make a huge loop and end up back in the area where they grew up or where they were from,” Budd said. “Bears can travel a long way in a pretty short amount of time. Generally, even their home range … is like 125 square miles, so they can certainly travel a very long way.”
Budd says so far, the bears haven’t caused any problems.
“Historically, we don’t usually have many problems with black bears,” he said. “The problems we would see are getting in people’s trash, maybe tearing apart beehives or birdfeeders, stuff like that. Not so much interaction with humans.”
He says just leave them alone.
“Black bears are a pretty elusive animal and they’re more afraid of humans than we are of them,” Budd said. “They try to avoid humans at all costs. They don’t want to be around anybody. They do associate humans with danger, and they see us as a predator. They definitely don’t want to be around us unless they have to be.”
“They’re going to probably take off once they see you. Just make some noise. It will probably scare them off.
“Don’t shoot them. Obviously, they’re protected in Ohio.”
Where did they come from? Why are they here?
Budd says all of the black bears in Ohio are juvenile males.
“Every year we get a few that come through. A lot of times they’re in search of a mate, and if they don’t find a mate, they move on,” Budd said. “Most of the time, they move on out of the county within a month or so of being here.”
The bears and wildlife officers have not found any females in Ohio.
“Until that happens, we’ll probably still get passer-throughs,” Budd said. “We’re not getting any that stay year-round and start establishing a population.
“I do feel that at some point we probably will have that. Bears were once native to Ohio, and so it’s likely they would come back.”
He says for now, the males end up returning to Pennsylvania or West Virginia.