HENDERSON, Ky (WEHT)– A bear has made it’s way to the western region of the Bluegrass state. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife confirms bear tracks have been spotted in southern Henderson County. This comes nearly a month after a bear was seen wandering around northeast Vanderburgh County. These sightings may be jarring for community members, but wildlife officials say we might start to see more bears in the Tri-State.
Brad Conrad sent Eyewitness News the pictures below. He says they were taken on private property in southern Henderson County where he goes hunting.
“The landowner that I hunt on sent me a picture and asked me, ‘Do you recognize these kind of tracks,'” Conrad said when he did his research he was shocked to see these matched the description of bear tracks. “I was so surprised. I texted my father and showed my wife the pictures and I just kept saying, ‘This is crazy.”
Conrad said the property owner could see some stalks of corn looked stepped on.
“Where that bear crossing is in their driveway and like I said it was going from one corn field to another corn field,” explained Conrad.
Biologists with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed these are bear tracks, and the first Henderson bear report this summer. Seeing a bear in Henderson County is rare as most of Kentucky’s bear population is in eastern Kentucky. However, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife officials say it is not unusual in the early summer for young male bears to wander well outside of eastern Kentucky.
“Kentucky has a growing bear population that’s moving further west across their state and as it moves further west across Kentucky, it’s closer to southern Indiana,” said Indiana DNR mammalogist Brad Westrich says seeing bear tracks in Henderson, Kentucky and southern Indiana isn’t a surprise. “I’d say it’s good news in the terms of we are being good stewards for the natural environment across the U.S. as well as here in Indiana. That we are maintaining this habitat for a species that once occurred here and we are maintaining it in such a state where they’re able to move back and actually survive.”
Bears are native to the area and are populating closer to what was once home before they were forced out of the area about 150 years ago. Wildlife officials say if you see a bear, back away slowly. If you are already too close to a bear put your arms up to make yourself as big as possible and yell.
To keep bears away from your property, it’s advised to keep you trash secure and bring animal feed indoors.