CLEVELAND (AP) - A booming black bear population in neighboring states is pushing more bears into Ohio.
The number of sightings in Ohio are on the rise and expected to increase in coming years, wildlife experts say. Ohio's Division of Wildlife says black bear sightings have jumped from only about 30 in 1998 to 152 a year ago.
Most of the black bears have been found in the eastern half of the state, but some have been tracked as far west as Dayton.
Special to the Tribune Chronicle
Brookfield resident Crystal Curry took a photo of this bear Sept. 2 at her Collar-Price Road home.
The creatures have made their presence known in the Mahoning Valley as well.
Last week, Crystal Curry of Brookfield shot a picture of an adult black bear as it popped its head out of the cornfield between her house and a neighbor's house along Collar-Price Road.
On July 6, a Howland resident reported seeing a black bear on his Hunters Trail property.
Richard Gula, 8483 Hunters Trail, said when he pulled into his driveway that morning, members of the police department and the Wildlife Division were in his yard.
"'Is everything alright?' I said, and they turned around and said, 'There's a bear in your yard,'" Gula said at the time.
Gula said he looked over and saw the black bear. The bear then climbed up a tree in his front yard, and jumped over the fence into his neighbor's yard.
Bears in search of their own territories are coming from Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and young males are known to wander more than 100 miles, experts told The Plain Dealer .
"They're just like teenage boys," said state wildlife research biologist Suzie Prange. "They're out there on their own for the first time and they're looking for a girlfriend."
State wildlife officials estimate that there are 50 to 100 black bears living in Ohio, but most of those spotted are young males. Those are the ones who are more likely to get into trouble by going into neighborhoods and knocking over garbage cans and bird feeders, Prange said.
A young black bear was spotted last week in suburban Cleveland outside an apartment building.
Wildlife experts think there is a small number of breeding females in Ohio, but it's difficult to be certain because females are more reclusive, Prange said