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Wildlife biologists with the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife say the Michigan black bear that walked into Indiana last week has turned west based on evidence collected over the weekend and reported sightings today near Michigan City.

“Definitely a bear track,” DNR wildlife biologist Budd Veverka said after examining photographs of paw prints found near Springville, a small community just north of the Indiana toll road in LaPorte County. “No doubt. And it continues to follow the predicted path based on the terrain.”

The black bear, a young male, first entered Indiana in St. Joseph County last week after its movements were tracked from near Muskegon by Michigan DNR officials. A scat pile it left in a resident’s driveway just north of South Bend was the evidence DNR needed to confirm the presence of a wild bear in Indiana for the first time since 1871.

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

Indiana DNR encourages citizens to report sightings of the bear to [email protected] or by calling (812) 334-1137 during normal business hours or by calling DNR Law Enforcement Central Dispatch, (812) 837-9536, anytime. Photos or videos can be sent to the same email address.

Black bears are shy by nature and tend to avoid human contact. Attacks are rare. Black bears are non-aggressive in most instances and prefer fleeing from humans when given the chance. DNR wildlife biologists offer the following bear awareness tips:

–Don’t intentionally feed bears. If a bear becomes accustomed to finding food near your home, it may become a “problem” bear.
–Eliminate food attractants by placing garbage cans inside a garage or shed.
–Clean and store grills away after use.
–Don’t leave pet food outside overnight
–Remove bird feeders and bird food from late March through November
–Don’t add meat or sweets to a compost pile
–If encountering a bear, don’t run. Shout, wave your arms and back away slowly.

Black bears, once a native species in Indiana, are now listed as an exotic mammal and protected under Indiana Administrative Code 312 9-3-18.5 (b-1), which prohibits the killing of a black bear except by a resident landowner or tenant while the animal is “destroying or causing substantial damage to property owned or leased by the landowner or tenant.”

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