Black bear confirmed in Vanderburgh County

June 28, 2021

DNR biologists have confirmed a black bear sighting that occurred in northeast Vanderburgh County before sunrise on Sunday. The closest town to this location is Elberfeld in Warrick County.

Biologists confirmed the bear from photos taken by the landowner.

“This is Indiana’s fourth confirmed black bear,” said Brad Westrich, DNR mammalogist. “With expanding bear populations in neighboring states, this is expected.

Indiana DNR photo of the black bear seen in northeast Vanderburgh County.

“Human-bear conflicts can be avoided if you remove or secure potential food sources from your yard. Bears can smell food from more than a mile away.”

Although black bears were once common in Indiana, there hasn’t been a resident population since before the Civil War. Until 2015, there hadn’t been a confirmed report of a black bear in Indiana since 1871.

Unregulated hunting and habitat loss caused black bears to be eliminated from Indiana and much of the Midwest by 1850.

Black bears have recently been entering Indiana from neighboring states, a clear sign that bear populations in those states are increasing and Indiana habitat is attractive to bears.

Black bears are native to Indiana and are listed as a species of special concern. They are protected under Indiana law, which prohibits the taking of a black bear except under certain conditions and by a permit issued only by the Indiana DNR.

Black bears are rarely aggressive toward humans.

If you see a black bear:
• Do not feed it.
• Observe it from a distance.
• Do not climb a tree.
• Advertise your presence by shouting and waving your arms and backing slowly away.
• Report bear sightings to the Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife.

Most problems that occur with bears arise when bears associate food sources with humans and lose their fear of people.

More guidelines for reducing or eliminating the potential for bear-human conflicts:
• Remove bird feeders and bird food if a bear is reported in your area.
• Clean and store away grills after use.
• Eliminate food attractants by placing garbage cans inside a garage or shed.
• Pick ripe fruits and vegetable as soon as possible or place an electric fence around them to ensure bears cannot reach them.
• Consolidate beehives you may have and place an electric fence around them.
• Don't leave pet food outside overnight.
• Don't add meat or sweets to a compost pile.
• Don't climb a tree if you encounter a bear; wait in a vehicle or building for the bear to leave the area.

Black bear confirmed in Vanderburgh County