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CLARK COUNTY, Ind. — The state’s population could grow by one if a black bear spotted in Kentucky crosses into southern Indiana.

A black bear has been spotted in northern Kentucky near Clark County, Ind., says the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Because bears are strong swimmers, the bear may swim across the Ohio River and enter the Hoosier state.

According to DNR nongame mammologist Brad Westrich, the bear sighting is not cause for alarm. It does, however, give people in the area a chance to prepare for a bear.

“We are fortunate that a confirmed sighting was made just across our state line,” Westrich said. “This sighting provides an opportunity for Hoosiers in the area to secure outdoor grills, trashcans, or pet and bird food. Black bears prefer to avoid humans, and removing potential food sources goes a long way to prevent negative interactions.”

You are encouraged to report a bear sighting to Indiana DNR by using the DNR’s large mammal report form, or by calling DNR Law Enforcement at 812-837-9536.

Since 2015, Indiana DNR has confirmed three black bears in Indiana. Black bear populations in neighboring states continue to increase, so it is not unusual that bears may cross into Indiana. According to Indiana DNR, the deciduous forests and rough terrain in southern Indiana provide a “great habitat” for black bears.