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Black Bear On The Loose in Northern Indiana Eats 'Thousands' Of Bees

By Jim Bochnowski in News on Jul 22, 2015 4:45PM

Black bear cub [MiguelB]

A black bear has been making himself at home in Northern Indiana, nomming on honey and bees as he goes. Local officials are having trouble returning him to his natural Michigan habitat.

Wildlife experts claim that this is the first confirmed bear sighting in Indiana in at least 144 years, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The bear first made headlines in June, when he was discovered at a honey bee farm in Michigan City. At the time, the bear ate at least ten pounds of honey and "thousands" of bees, prompting the farm's owner, Pete Livas, to move the honeycombs off of his property, according to the Northwest Indiana Times.

"He definitely has a sweet tooth," Livas told the paper. "Even though it's nice to have him around, we need to protect our bees also."

Disturbingly, the bear, estimated to be about 2 years old and weigh 250 lbs, has just become more and more bold, regularly pawing at residents' back doors. The sightings have become more commonplace, and one resident told ABC7 he panicked when he saw the bear.

"When I screamed at him I kind of panicked and I screamed at my wife, I told her to get the pots and pans," the man said.

An official with the department told ABC7 that "his behavior is becoming more habituated-type behavior where he is less afraid of people and getting closer to homes."

Some residents have threatened to shoot the bear, but wildlife officials caution that it would be an "illegal and jailable offense" and "something we would take very serious if that were to happen," according to CBS.

Wildlife officials stressed that their first concern is public safety, then the safety of the bear:

"Our concern would be public safety, because the bear is becoming more and more comfortable coming close to houses; and, really, the safety of the bear, where people may become concerned, and actually do harm to the bear."

The IDNR has set up two traps to capture the animal alive so that he can be returned to his home in Michigan. The bear has already set off at least one of the traps, but it malfunctioned and allowed him to escape. With few other options to catch the bear, authorities are encouraging area residents to stop leaving food outside, including garbage cans, according to WGN.

A bear on the loose who isn't even fazed by a few traps or a few thousand bees—add him to the list of wild animals to worry about, right under all the cougars supposedly running around the Midwest this year.