Black Bears in Indiana

Black bear tracks


Black bears (Ursus americanus) were historically abundant across Indiana, excluding the northwest portions of the state dominated by prairie. Unregulated hunting and habitat loss caused black bears to be extirpated from Indiana and much of the Midwest by 1850.

Before 2015, when a black bear entered the state at the Michigan border, the last confirmed report of a black bear in Indiana was in 1871.

In June 2015, wildlife biologists with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources verified the presence of a black bear in St. Joseph County. The bear was believed to be a young male. It spent most of the next five months in Indiana and was last reported in the state on Oct. 13, 2015.

In March 2016, the bear emerged from its winter den in Michigan and, unfortunately, exhibited habituated behaviors, including a loss of fear of humans. Based on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ (MI DNR) “Problem Bear Management Guidelines,” such behaviors are considered a threat to public safety. Consequently, the MI DNR trapped and humanely euthanized the bear on April 9, 2016.

In July 2016, a black bear was confirmed in southern Indiana in Harrison, Washington and Clark counties.

In November 2018, a black bear was hit by a motor vehicle on Interstate 64 in Floyd County. The injured bear wandered into heavy brush after the accident.

If you see a black bear

  • Enjoy it from a distance.
  • Do not climb a tree.
  • Advertise your presence by shouting and waving your arms and backing slowly away.
  • Never attempt to feed or attract bears.
  • Report bear sightings to the Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife at (812) 334-1137, through email at, or online with the Report a large mammal sighting in Indiana form below.