WILLOUGHBY -- Police received several reports of a black bear sighting Monday, one about 2:30 a.m. and the other just before 6 a.m.
The first sighting was reportedy inside the shop area of a business on Biltmore Road, located in an industrial area near Beidler Road.
The bear was gone upon the responding officer's arrival.
Just before 6 a.m., the bear was crossing River Street going toward Daniels Park.
In another sighting, the bear was at a bird feeder, which is typical behavior.
Police say there was one earlier sighting at 4:15 a.m. Sunday in the area of state Route 91 and I-90, at which time responding officers were unable to locate the bear.
As of 12:45 p.m. Monday, the bear was seen by Willoughby police near state Route 306 and I-90 heading down into a ravine.
Police say bear sightings in Ohio increase yearly with 224 in 2012 and increasing numbers in Northeast Ohio. Black Bears are a protected species in Ohio.
Black bears are generally fearful of people and will avoid contact, which is why they usually do not stray far from wooded areas during the daytime hours.
They are transient and tend to keep moving to new areas so it is unlikely the same bear will be seen repeatedly in the same places.
Those encountering a Black Bear are advised to keep their distance, do not try to get close and do not feed or leave out a source of food.
They may become aggressive if cornered or if they have cubs.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources received 224 sightings reported from an estimated 93 black bears in 2012.
Sixty-five of the 224 sightings reported were confirmed by ODNR Division of Wildlife personnel.
The number of total sightings in 2012 increased from 152 in 2011. Five black bears accounted for 62 sightings in 2012, although a majority of these were unconfirmed.
The number of confirmed sightings is similar to recent years; 60 were confirmed in 2011 and 64 in 2010.
Twenty-one counties had confirmed sightings in 2012 from an estimated 35 bears.
Northeast Ohio had the most sightings: Portage County had the most total sightings (36) and Trumbull County had the highest confirmed sightings (10).
Portage County had six confirmed sightings, while Ashtabula, Geauga and Mahoning counties had five each.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife has been made aware of the Willoughby sightings.
Here's a link to the ODNR website for more information.