Black bear confirmed in Indiana

Posted on Jul 01 2015 in Outdoors

Photo by Jupiterimages

It looks as if Indiana’s tourism program is working! On June 12, Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists confirmed the presence of a visiting wild black bear in northern Indiana.

The DNR received reliable reports of the wandering bear northwest of South Bend in St. Joseph County and made the confirmation after wildlife biologist Budd Veverka examined waste material submitted to the DNR and identified the substance as bear scat. (For readers not up to speed on outdoor terminology, “scat” is the professional term used for what most people refer to as poop.)

In other words, the thing most bears do in the woods … this one did in a guy’s driveway, and it was submitted for examination and as evidence of the bear’s presence. I guess bears don’t always use the woods.

Evidence … can you imagine? “I didn’t get a picture of the bear, but I got this … and I submit it as Exhibit Number 2.”

It seems Indiana officials were expecting a bear might someday find Indiana to its liking.

“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 and 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.”

I wonder if they are talking about the bear, or the pile of evidence?

Although there have been occasional unconfirmed reports of bears in Indiana, this is the first verified presence of a bear in the state since 1871 — almost 145 years. Young black bears are known to disperse in the springtime as they seek new territory in which to settle.

Unless this bear is a confirmed bachelor, Indiana biologists feel it will become bored and exit the state.

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

DNR officials report the bear continues on a westward path in northern Indiana, headed in the direction of Michigan City. The DNR’s report is based on sightings and evidence collected. I assume the evidence is of the same type collected when the bear was first discovered in the state.

Tracks were discovered as well.

“Definitely a bear track,” DNR’s Veverka said after examining photographs of paw prints found near Springville, a small community just north of the Indiana toll road in LaPorte County. He noted the bear continues to follow a predicted path based on the terrain.

DNR officials from Indiana and Michigan are working together to track the bear’s “movements.”

Jack Spaulding is a state outdoors writer and a consumer of RushShelby Energy living along the Flatrock River in Moscow. Readers with questions or comments can write to him in care of Electric Consumer, P.O. Box 24517, Indianapolis, IN 46224; or email