Wildlife officials recently reported evidence that a black bear has visited Indiana for the first time in 144 years. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says a young male black bear left paw prints and a pile of scat at two separate locations in Northwest Indiana. Officials believe the bear traveled south from Michigan within the last week.
Although there are no photographs of the black bear, sightings had been reported for several days before evidence was discovered. American black bears are not considered an endangered species, and in some areas of the country, their populations are increasing. Despite that, there is no record of any black bears in the state of Indiana since 1871. “It’s quite unusual and exciting for a Michigan lakeshore black bear to move this far south,” said Mitch Marcus, an Indiana DNR wildlife official.
The exact age of the bear isn’t known, but wildlife officials are certain the bear is a young male. The scat pile was found in a driveway just north of South Bend and the paw prints were discovered a few days later in LaPorte County, about 70 miles (110 km) southeast of Chicago, according to the department.
Because Indiana doesn’t have an active breeding population of black bears, the young visitor is not likely to say, according to Marcus. The bear will probably turn back north and head home after his summer vacation.