BRISTOL — In a rare occurrence, a black bear has been found dead near Bristol.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources Mammologist Brad Westrich said by telephone on Wednesday evening that the bear was found near the Indiana Toll Road exit north of Bristol at approximately 11 a.m. Wednesday.
“We were able to collect the carcass, from which we could determine it was in an extreme state of decomposition,” Westrich said.
Westrich said that a necropsy is currently being conducted to determine the bear’s cause of death, but was unsure how long it would take, adding that this is only the fifth confirmed bear sighting in Indiana since 2015.
“They are looking for resources without additional bear pressures,” Westrich said about young male black bears who disperse in from neighboring states, adding that the urge to mate prompts them to head back to their native population.
According to the state DNR website, black bears were historically abundant across Indiana, excluding the northwest portions of the state. Unregulated hunting and habitat loss caused black bears to be extirpated from Indiana and much of the Midwest by 1850.
Today, black bear populations are expanding and they may pass through Indiana from established populations in adjacent states. In recent years, four black bears have been confirmed (2015, 2016, 2018, 2021) in Indiana.
This article is made available through Hoosier State Press Association.