NEW ALBANY, Ind. (AP) - Black bears are rarely seen in Indiana, but now one has been struck by a car on a major southern Indiana highway, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources confirmed Monday.
After a motorist reported possibly striking one Sunday night on Interstate 64 in the New Albany area, wildlife biologists confirmed the animal was a black bear Monday afternoon, based on information gathered by conservation officers, the DNR said.
The injured bear wandered into heavy brush after the collision, the agency said in a news release.
“It’s unfortunate and unusual for a bear to be hit on an Indiana roadway, but bear sightings are nothing to be alarmed about,” said Brad Westrich, a DNR mammalogist. “As bear populations expand in neighboring states, it’s only natural that they become more common here.”
Black bears have been rarely seen in Indiana . Before 2015, when a black bear entered the state from Michigan, the last confirmed report of a black bear in Indiana was in the 1870s, the DNR said. In 2016, a black bear was confirmed in southern Indiana’s Harrison, Washington and Clark counties, it said.
Black bears are rarely aggressive toward humans, the agency said. It advises that if people see a black bear, they should enjoy it from a distance, should never attempt to feed or attract bears, and should make their presence known by shouting and waving their arms while backing slowly away.
Most problems arise when bears associate food sources with humans. Feeding bears increases the likelihood of negative bear-human interactions, the DNR said.
“Unfortunately, a fed bear often becomes a dead bear due to increased aggressive behaviors associated with the loss of fear of humans,” the DNR said in a news release.
Bears can smell food from more than a mile away, so it’s important to secure food sources and discourage animals from associating humans and human dwellings with food, it said.
Bear sightings can be reported to the Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife at 812-334-1137, through email at dfw@dnr.IN.gov, or wildlife.IN.gov/8497.htm .
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