Black Bear Possibly From Wyoming

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The black bear observed near Henry in the Panhandle west of Scottsbluff on May 15 and 16 may be the same bear captured by the Wyoming Department of Fish and Game on the Warren Air Force base on the west edge of Cheyenne, Wyoming on Tuesday May 21, according to Gary Schlichtemeier, district wildlife manager at the Game and Parks Commission's district office in Alliance.

"Biologists with the Wyoming department used a tranquilizer dart gun to capture the bear," Schlichtemeier said, "and they found it was carrying a red ear tag with the number 35 in it's right ear. Although we were unable to completely read the ear tag during the Henry bear sighting, it appeared there was a 5 and another number on the tag. If so, the black bear traveled more than 80 miles in about four days, crossing major highways and numerous other obstacles. At one point, a Wyoming biologist estimated the bear was traveling at least four miles per hour as it moved into the immediate Cheyenne area."

Black bears were found historically across Nebraska, and the recent drought throughout the mountainous west and the expansion of residential and commercial development in traditional black bear habitat has been linked to increased black bear sightings.

"The preliminary information on Wyoming's black bear tagging studies suggest the bear wasn't tagged in Wyoming and we are checking with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources" Division of Wildlife," Schlichtemeier added.

The Henry sighting is the second confirmed black bear observation in western Nebraska. During the fall of 2000, Schlichtemeier and Conservation Officer Scott Brandt observed a black bear southwest of Harrisburg, located south of Gering in the central Nebraska Panhandle.

Black bears are primarily nocturnal, feeding on vegetation, carrion, garbage, roots and a wide variety of food items, but they pose very little threat to livestock or humans. Anyone observing a black bear in Nebraska should avoid approaching the bear and report their sighting to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission office in Alliance.