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First Documented Bear Sighting in Kentucky in Your Lifetime (Probably)

kentucky bear
all images via Bernheim

A research forest in Kentucky has photographed a black bear for the first time. 

Kentucky has started to earn a reputation of big whitetails, and now black bears. The Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest had a bear sighting dating back to this summer, July 17th; however, the bear disappeared… until it was pictured on trail camera a few months later. A distinctive scar helps confirm it’s the same bear, roaming in the forest once more.


According to Kentucky’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, this might be the first documented bear in over a century. The bear population was depleted by unregulated hunting, logging, and lack of protected areas in the early 1900s.

Thankfully, the Bernheim Research Forest is 23 square miles, giving room for a potential bear population. The researchers believe the 14,500-acre area “enables us to support a small population of bear in the future, which we would welcome.”


The Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest has decided to run a poll to name the bear. The options include Bernie, Ranger, and Wilson, with Bernie in the lead. 

The bear sighting come as a surprise for many people. Thanks to the trail camera pictures, there is documented proof a bear roaming the hardwoods of Kentucky.


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First Documented Bear Sighting in Kentucky in Your Lifetime (Probably)