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Indiana Confirms First Black Bear Sighting in 144 Years

Wildlife officials say a wandering Michigan black bear has arrived in Indiana.

After nearly a century and a half, a black bear has finally arrived in Indiana. Despite bordering states with sizable black bear populations, state wildlife officials say that the last official bear sighting in Indiana took place back in 1971—until a young bear was seen last week.

The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed that a wild male black bear was sighted near South Bend in St. Joseph County, and it is believed to have come from Michigan.

“With black bears in some surrounding states, we were expecting a bear to show up eventually,” said Mitch Marcus, Wildlife Section chief for the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife. “It’s quite unusual and exciting for a Michigan lakeshore black bear to move this far south. Michigan DNR officials told us this is the southernmost black bear movement in more than a decade.”

The DNR received multiple reports of bear sightings in the area earlier this month and a recently-collected sample of bear scat confirmed their suspicions. According to Marcus, the DNR occasionally receives reports of bear sightings, but to actually confirm one was particularly exciting. However, with the lack of breeding opportunities in the state, officials expect the bear’s trip to be a short one.

“Indiana does not have a breeding population of black bears, and we expect this one to turn back north eventually,” Marcus said.