Biologists excited after black bear caught on camera in northeast Iowa

(courtesy Zach Anderson)

WINNESHIEK COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) – For the first time in more than a century, black bears appear to once again be living in Iowa.

This past weekend, a turkey hunter came across a black bear in a wooded area of Winneshiek County. Zach Anderson caught the encounter on camera and posted the video on Facebook.

State biologists are also excited, saying Anderson’s video provided evidence black bears are now living in Iowa – not just passing through – for the first time in approximately 130 years.

“The Iowa DNR does believe it's one of the first bears to reside in Iowa since the 1880s,” Vince Evelsizer, a furbearer biologist with the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources, told KWQC-TV. “There's been a bear confirmed in this very same area north of Decorah for the past three years, so we believe it's the same bear and it ‘resides’ in that area.”

State officials have received several reports of bear sightings in Eastern Iowa in recent years, including one who was spotted in several different counties during the spring of 2017. Experts said they believed those bears were only passing through, perhaps for mating purposes, before returning north to Minnesota or Wisconsin.

The black bear is not protected in Iowa, but the DNR advises anyone spotting one to avoid it.