By MARALINE KUBIK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- Two hundred years ago, black bears lived in Ohio. Now, after more than a 100-year absence, they're starting to reappear.
So, this year, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife's exhibit at the Canfield Fair features an educational exhibit about black bears.
"There have been at least three [appearances] in Mahoning County this year and three or four in Trumbull County," said Dave Brown, state wildlife officer for Mahoning County.
The bears are entering eastern Ohio from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. Those spotted in this area earlier this year -- young bears are most active searching for new territory May through July -- likely came from Pennsylvania where a growing black bear population is forcing young bears farther and farther away in search of new territory, he explained.
Because bears are going to be entering Ohio in greater numbers, and the state's bear population is bound to grow, Brown said, "We thought it was important to let the public know what to do and what not to do."
Fairgoers will learn how big they grow, what to do to discourage them from coming too near areas inhabited by humans, and where in Ohio they are most abundant. They'll also get to see a black bear killed by a vehicle on state Route 11 in Trumbull County.
Bears, like white-tailed deer and bald eagles, which were all pushed out of Ohio by industry and an increasing human population, are making a comeback, Brown said.
In 1965, deer hunters bagged 410 deer. Today, more than 100,000 are bagged each year and 30,000 more are hit by cars on the road, he said. The black bear population isn't growing that quickly, Brown said, "but we're going to see more and more of them." Black bears are still protected in Ohio, meaning they can't be hunted.
The exhibit, located in the Fruit, Hay & amp; Grain building, was put together by Brown, Jeff Janosik, area manager for the Highlandtown Wildlife Area in central Columbiana County, and Brown's son, David, a National Honor Society student at Canfield High School.
The exhibit will also be on display at the Eastwood Expo Center in May.