Indiana DNR says black bear wandering near Michigan City

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By: Jon Zimney

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (AP) – State wildlife biologists believe the first wild black bear confirmed in Indiana since the 1870s is continuing to wander around the state line with Michigan.

The Department of Natural Resources said Monday evidence found over the weekend shows and reported signings on Monday, June 15, that the bear traveled from northern Indiana’s St. Joseph County into a rural area of neighboring LaPorte County near Michigan City.

“Definitely a bear track,” DNR wildlife biologist Budd Veverka said after examining photographs of paw prints found near Springville, a small community just north of the Indiana toll road in LaPorte County. “No doubt. And it continues to follow the predicted path based on the terrain.”

The black bear, a young male, first entered Indiana in St. Joseph County, from Michigan, last week after its movements were tracked from near Muskegon by Michigan DNR officials. A scat pile it left in a resident’s driveway just north of South Bend was the evidence DNR needed to confirm the presence of a wild bear in Indiana for the first time since 1871.

Black bears are listed as an exotic mammal and are protected under Indiana law. Wildlife officials say black bears are typically shy and tend to avoid humans.

Indiana DNR encourages citizens to email sightings of the bear or by calling (812) 334-1137 during normal business hours or by calling DNR Law Enforcement Central Dispatch, (812) 837-9536, anytime. Photos or videos can be sent to the same email address.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources wildlife offer the following bear awareness tips:

  • Don’t intentionally feed bears. If a bear becomes accustomed to finding food near your home, it may become a “problem” bear.
  • Eliminate food attractants by placing garbage cans inside a garage or shed.
  • Clean and store grills away after use.
  • Don’t leave pet food outside overnight
  • Remove bird feeders and bird food from late March through November
  • Don’t add meat or sweets to a compost pile
  • If encountering a bear, don’t run. Shout, wave your arms and back away slowly.