BRISTOL, Ind (WEHT)– The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recovered the body of a black bear along the side of the road in Elkhart County on Wednesday. Officials say the bear was found near a toll road in an advanced state of decomposition.
Preliminary results of a necropsy show the bear was likely hit by a car. DNR mammalogist Brad Westrich says the bear had many fractured bones that 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.
The bear that was killed was not the same black bear that had previously visited southern Indiana earlier this summer, according to Indiana DNR.
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 the 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 habitats for black bears.
If you see a bear, report it to the DNR. Biologists use these reports to monitor bear activity and provide recommendations to local residents.