ODNR confirms Franklin County black bear sighting, the first in nearly 20 years

Jack McLaughlin

While the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has confirmed the second Franklin County black bear sighting in nearly two decades, it’s not very likely Columbus or its neighboring cities will have many more black bears in the immediate future.

According to Sarah Schott, a wildlife communications specialist with ODNR, the sighting occurred in the early morning hours of June 24, near Three Creeks Metro Park in the area of Groveport and Obetz. The bear was briefly captured by a homeowner’s doorbell camera.

While Schott said ODNR experts can’t tell this with 100 percent certainty from just a short video, the animal is likely a young black bear. And if you’re worried about a central Ohio bear infestation, this is probably the best case scenario.


“Typically, when young males get kicked out by their mothers, they travel to find their own home range. This bear is probably from West Virginia or Pennsylvania, and looking for a mate,” she said. “ When they go west to Ohio, they don’t find competition from other bears, but there also aren’t any sows [female bears] here, either. This is likely just a wandering bear. You’re not suddenly going to see them popping up everywhere in the area now.”

Schott said if anyone in the area does happen to the bear, reporting their sighting to ODNR (through their website or by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE (945-3543)) will help wildlife specialists determine the bear’s movement through the area.

She noted that Groveport and Obetz residents can reduce their risk of a bear encounter by removing food sources from outside their homes, including food for outdoors and bird feeders.

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