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DNR recovered the body of a black bear north of Bristol in Elkhart County on Wednesday.

The bear was found near a toll road and was in an advanced state of decomposition. DNR staff delivered the remains to the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL) at Purdue for necropsy to determine cause of death. Preliminary results revealed the bear had many fractured bones, injuries that DNR mammalogist Brad Westrich says are consistent with a vehicle collision.

“It is unfortunate that for many in Elkhart County this was their first experience observing a black bear,” Westrich said. “It’s well documented that wild animals are commonly killed on roadways, and it’s a shame that Indiana’s fifth black bear in modern history met this fate.”

DNR had not received reports of black bears in the area before finding this bear.

Hair and tissue samples will be analyzed to determine where the black bear originated. It was not the same black bear that had previously visited southern Indiana earlier this summer. Bear reports in that region have stopped coming to Indiana DNR, and Westrich says it has probably moved on to Kentucky, based on confirmed sightings received from Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources.

Indiana was once home to black bears. Bear populations in neighboring states are expanding, and Indiana’s forests and hills, primarily located in the southern portion of the state, are excellent habitat for black bears.

If you see a bear, report it to the DNR at on.IN.gov/largemammal. Biologists use these reports to monitor bear activity and provide recommendations to local residents.

Learn more about black bears, those that have visited Indiana, and tips for living with bears at wildlife.IN.gov/wildlife-resources/animals/black-bear/.

To view more DNR news releases, please see dnr.IN.gov.

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