Indiana DNR offering tips to protect roaming black bear, personal property

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Photo By KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)

PIKE COUNTY, Ind. — The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is alerting homeowners in Pike County and surrounding counties to be aware as a roaming black bear may still be in the area.

The Indiana DNR said the bear was last spotted in Pike County on July 8 but can travel up to 20 miles a day. The DNR warns that if trash or recycling containers are easily accessible, the bear could start to associate people’s homes with a place to find food.

To protect the bear and personal property, the DNR is asking residents of Pike and surrounding counties to secure containers and other potential human-generated outdoor food sources.

“Seeking out easily accessible food is normal behavior for many wild animals,” said Brad Westrich, DNR mammologist. “Unfortunately, bears can become sick or even die when they eat items from our garbage.”

The Indiana DNR said Indiana was once home to black bears. Bear populations in neighboring states are expanding, and southern Indiana’s forests and hills are excellent habitats for black bears, so more are likely coming. 

The DNR said if a bear regularly seeks food sources near humans, they have to implement a technique called aversive conditioning to correct this behavior. Aversive conditioning methods, such as spotlights and airhorns, are stressful for the bear.

Residents can help DNR avoid needing to use these methods by:

• Storing garbage cans and recycling containers inside a garage or shed.
• Putting garbage cans and recycling containers on the curb the morning of pick-up rather than on the night before.
• Avoiding putting meats, sweets, bones, or grease in compost piles.
• Removing or securing other potential food sources for bears, such as livestock feed or pet food.

The DNR also said Other potential food sources such as beehives, grills, and vegetable gardens can also attract bears. They provided some tips to help secure them.

The DNR asks anyone that spots a bear to report it to the DNR.  For tips on coexisting with bears, visit bearwise.org/six-bearwise-basics/food-garbage/.

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