CLERMONT, KY (WAVE) - The first-ever sighting of a black bear at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest was announced on Tuesday.
The bear, likely a male, was spotted last weekend in the Cypress Tupleo Swamp area of Lake Nevin in Gorilla Stream, according to a news release from Bernheim. The stream is known for its bass population, which the bear may have been feeding upon. The bear has not been seen since Sunday, and it likely has moved out of the forest, the release states.
"We are fairly certain he was looking for a mate like the other bears sighted in the Central Kentucky region in the past couple of months," Bernheim Executive Director Dr. Mark Wourms said.
Bernheim Forest Manager Andrew Berry said the bears are following the corridor of knobs that leads from the Appalachian Plateau into the Greater Bernheim area.
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There is evidence that bears previously traveled through Bernheim, but this is the first documented sighting in its 87-year history. Wourms attributed the recent bear sightings to the rebound of oak and hickory forests throughout the state and to Bernheim's protection of thousands of acres of forest, fields and streams.
"Our protection of waterways and forests, as well as the natural lands protected by our fine neighbors, provide critical corridors for large and small mammals that move through or live in this area," Wourms said.
He called the sighting thrilling and noted that 46 species of mammals have been found at Bernheim, including the bear.
Berry added that black bears typically are shy in nature, but he reminded the public that they are powerful wild animals.
"If you are lucky enough to observe one, keep your distance, do not feed or follow, and as always keep your dog on leash," Berry said.
Other bear sightings have been reported recently in Hardin, Meade, and Hart Counties in Kentucky and Corydon, IN. Officials believe some of the sightings are of the same bear.