Black bear in Cincinnati: Looking for love in all the wrong places

Bear left Kentucky looking for mate

CINCINNATI – The young black bear wandering through neighborhoods east of Cincinnati is like the John Travolta character in the movie "Urban Cowboy:"

Looking for love in all the wrong places.

Like other male bears at this time of year, the 2-year-old, 80-pound bear is probably looking for a mate.

"June is the peak of mating season. Male bears get crazy, and there's only one thing on their minds," says Steven Dobey, Bear Program Coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources.

"Unfortunately, he's gone to the wrong place."

Dobey says some Kentucky neighborhoods are having the same problem with male bears looking for love. Bears are wandering 50 to 100 miles or more out of their "core" habitat - from the eastern Kentucky mountains to the Daniel Boone National Forest - and winding up in residential areas in central Kentucky.

And even across the Ohio River.

"The river is usually a good barrier, " Dobey said, "but black bears are good swimmers, and when it's mating season, a little river won't stop them."

Dobey thinks the bear seen in Madeira and Montgomery on Friday is the same one spotted in Robertson County in Kentucky on June 18. He said they tracked it through Bracken County and across the Ohio River into Clermont County last weekend.

"The family group is breaking up and these young bears are going out on their own for the first time and they're looking in the wrong places. It's an age-old story," Dobey said.

When young bears roam, they're in more danger from people than vice versa, Dobey indicated. 

"Cars are a big problem for bears,"  he said.

And two bears have been shot and killed in central Kentucky this week, Dobey said. 

"In areas where bear sightings are novel, people are usually very excited or scared to death," he said. "It's against the law, but admittedly, they can be troublesome. Nobody wants to pick up a yard full of trash after a bear has run through it."

Dobey says a young, smallish bear like the one here poses little danger to people who "use common sense and give the bear some space."

"Remember it's a wild animal and treat him as such. He doesn't want to be around people. Give him space and let him find an escape route."

A frightened bear may climb a tree, and "you don't want that," Dobey said.

While the bear is in the area, he advised residents to keep their trash inside, don't leave "mountains of pet food" outside and empty bird feeders.

"Usually food is what attracts a bear. They get hungry and want a snack," Dobey said. "People don't usually think of bird feeders, but bears love what people put in them."

Like any young male on the prowl, Cincy bear will get frustrated and move on, Dobey said.

Local officials think he is heading south.

It wouldn't be unusual for the bear to go back to his old home, Dobey said.

"Bears have pretty amazing homing instincts," Dobey said. "Sometimes when we track bears, we'll tag it and drive it 10, 20, 30 miles away, and in a few weeks or months we'll find it back in the same place."
 

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