Officers Tracking Indiana Black Bear

The second black bear confirmed in the state in the past year was spotted Sunday night and again Monday

Indiana authorities warned people not to leave food outdoors Monday while they monitored the movements of a black bear spotted near a southern Indiana hospital and commercial area. 

The second black bear confirmed in the state in the past year was spotted around 9 p.m. Sunday night and again Monday around Corydon, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said, according to NBC 5 affiliate WTHR

Conservation officers established a perimeter around the bear and were tracking it from the air with helicopters and a drone, Conservation Officer Jim Shreck said in a telephone interview. They also have a bear trap. 

"Our ultimate goal is to try to capture the bear without harming it," Shreck said. 

However, the DNR said later in a news release that wildlife biologists will monitor the bear to determine whether to allow it to remain where it is or to trap it and relocate it. That decision will be based on whether the bear exhibits nuisance behavior and continues to come into close contact with humans, it said. 

"It's best if people just leave the bear alone and let it be a part of the natural environment," according to Josh Griffin, with the Division of Fish & Wildlife. 

The bear was first reported around 9 p.m. Sunday by a Harrison County homeowner who said it was going through the caller's garbage. On Monday morning, the bear was observed by several people, including conservation officers, in areas near State Road 62 and later in Corydon, the DNR said. 

The bear is most likely wild and swam across the Ohio River from Kentucky, which has an expanding bear population, the DNR said. 

"We've anticipated this possibility and our staff has been preparing," said Linnea Petercheff, a staff operations specialist with the Division of Fish & Wildlife. 

The latest sighting comes roughly a year after a black bear wandered into northwest Indiana from Michigan. That bear was the first verified presence of a bear in Indiana in more than 140 years. After spending several weeks in Indiana, the bear returned to Michigan, where conservation officers euthanized it in April. 

South-central Indiana is hilly and heavily forested with large tracts of public land, including Harrison-Crawford State Forest, O'Bannon Woods State Park and the Hoosier National Forest. 

Black bears are shy by nature, tend to avoid human contact and rarely attack people, the DNR said. Black bears are not aggressive in most instances and prefer fleeing from humans when given the chance.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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