INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) – A black bear believed to be hibernating in southern Indiana is expected to wake soon from hibernation, according to a news release from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
The bear was last seen in November in the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge and wildlife experts believe the animal spent the winter there. Bears typically emerge from hibernation in late winter or early spring.
The existence of the bear was first confirmed last July near Corydon. It was the second bear confirmed by the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife in Indiana in the last two years. The other was euthanized by authorities in MIchigan in early 2016 after it had reportedly become aggressive. That bear had wandered back and forth between Michigan and northwest Indiana. Prior to its sighting, black bears hadn’t officially been confirmed in Indiana for about 150 years.
According to the DNR, young, male black bears disperse in the spring to establish their own territory and find mates. This bear most likely swam across the Ohio River from Kentucky, which has an expanding bear population.
Black bears are protected under Indiana Administrative Code 312 9-3-18.5 (b-1), which prohibits the killing of a black bear except by a resident landowner or tenant while the animal is “destroying or causing substantial damage to property owned or leased by the landowner or tenant.”
Black bears are not aggressive in most situations and prefer fleeing from humans when given the chance.