Wednesday, December 30, 2015

First Ohio bear trapped and collared

An adult male black bear was radio collared Nov. 14 in Vinton County by Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife biologists. This is the first black bear radio collared in Ohio, and was the first step for ODNR Division of Wildlife biologists to determine details of black bear demography, density, distribution, and rate of population growth in Ohio.

Because of its age and size, biologists believe this bear to be a resident bear. Vinton County has long been a hot spot for bear activity and was believed to have a resident bear population. The GPS collar deployed on this bear will provide 2 locations per day for up to five years. The data will allow biologists to analyze the bear’s movement, home range size and habitat use. In addition, if it is indeed a resident bear, a female bear will be present within the home range. This will allow biologists to concentrate their efforts to trap and radio collar a female, so biologists can document reproduction and population growth.

The bear was trapped on private land where staff from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services were removing feral hogs with the cooperation of the landowner. The bear had been photographed feeding on hog bait several times in September, and a culvert trap was deployed at the site in October. 

ODNR Division of Wildlife staff anesthetized the bear to measure, weigh and radio collar it. The bear was not completely anesthetized by the drugs, so specific measurements and the extraction of a tooth for aging were not possible. However, Al LeCount, retired Arizona Game and Fish bear biologist, estimated the bear’s weight at 250-275 lbs. and its age at least three and a half years old. 

Before settlement black bears were found throughout Ohio. However, unregulated hunting and extensive deforestation during the mid-1800s lead to a sizable decrease in the number of bears residing within Ohio, and by the 1850s black bears had vanished from the landscape. As black bear populations began to increase in neighboring states, bears have started to make their way back into Ohio. 

Black bears are now listed as a state endangered species in Ohio, and are primarily found in south-central and southeastern Ohio. Ohio’s bear population is estimated to be anywhere from 50-100 individual bears. In 2014, there were 135 documented sightings involving an estimated 88 individual black bears. The majority of bears in Ohio weigh between 125-250 pounds, and are juvenile male bears searching for new habitat.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at

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