The black bear is the most common species of bear in North America. The name "black" bear can be somewhat misleading as this species appears in a range of color phases that include black, chocolate brown, cinnamon brown, blue-black, and even white. Its face, in profile, can be straight or Roman-nosed, a distinguishing characteristic that helps differentiate it from the dish-faced grizzly and Alaskan brown bears.

Although black bears inhabited Ohio prior to settlement of the region, unregulated hunting and the extensive deforestation that occurred by the mid-1800s as farms, towns, and industry were established resulted in a sizable reduction in the number of bears residing within the state's borders. Those bears that remained following this drastic change in habitat were either shot or trapped to protect livestock and crops from depredation. By the 1850s, black bears were considered extirpated from Ohio. However, occasional reports of their presence, particularly in south-central and southeastern Ohio, persisted and, in 1973, included a report of a sow (female) with cubs (offspring).

To learn more about black bears, visit our species guide: wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/species-and-habitats/species-guide-index/mammals/black-bear

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