Black bears expanding south toward Michigan/Ohio border - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Black bears expanding south toward Michigan/Ohio border

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3 healthy baby black bears 3 healthy baby black bears
Michigan DNR on snowshoes tracking down the bear den Michigan DNR on snowshoes tracking down the bear den
Michigan DNR checking the health of the Mother black bear Michigan DNR checking the health of the Mother black bear
Baby black bears Baby black bears
Baby black bears Baby black bears
Toledo, OH -

Black bears are native to the viewing area, but the animals have been non-existent for the past century. Now the black bear is making a come back in both Ohio and southern Michigan. The health of the smallest bear cub will determine the future of the black bear population and where they may roam in the decades to come. Dwayne Etter, a wildlife research specialist with the Michigan DNR said, "This is a project that we are interested in because bears have been expanding. We have been receiving more information about bears showing up in southern Michigan."

It is estimated that 18,000 black bears live in Michigan, most of them in the northern part of the state. During the winter season, DNR officers cover miles of terrain on snowshoe to locate the mother bears and their new born cubs. Baby cubs are about 5 to 10 pounds a piece this time of the year, but will grow to 80 pounds within a year and will reach full maturity in about 2 to 3 years. The bears breed young and have lots of cubs in this part of the country.

Black bears are constantly on the move and new technology is allowing researchers to record GPS coordinates on the bears every 30 minutes. The occasional bear report is common in southern Michigan reaching 20 to 30 miles south of Lansing, or about 50 miles from the Michigan/Ohio state line.

Bears are also hungry animals consuming up to 20,000 calories a day. Most of their food supply comes from berries and nuts found in the woods. Researchers suspect the lack of wooded areas and the open agricultural habitat may keep some bears away from the area in the future. Etter said, "We don't think we will sustain very large populations. There may be pockets that we have habitat were they might become a little more abundant."

Not only is Michigan's bear population expanding south, but Ohio's black bear population is increasing and expanding north. There has already been a report of a black bear in Seneca and Ottawa Counties in the past couple of years according to the Ohio DNR. Wildlife officials believe Ohio's resident bear population is fewer than 100 currently, but that number has jumped up in recent years.

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