Chances are you saw or heard about the video of a black bear sitting down to have lunch with a family at a picnic table. Iowan's should probably start getting used to that scene, although I wouldn't recommend setting a weekly lunch date with every bear you see wandering through Iowa, maybe your lunch date won't be so friendly!

Black bears are actually native to Iowa

Since 2002, there have been 43 confirmed black bears in Iowa, and about 2 to 5 per year since 2014. Now, according to a Iowa Department of Natural Resources news release there's a pretty good chance that those numbers will increase this spring and summer. Why?

Are black bears coming to Iowa to find love?

Breeding season is approaching, and some black bears just don't have "game" with the ladies apparently. The Iowa DNR reports that Wisconsin's black bear population is estimated at 30,000, Minnesota's is about 15,000 and they have about 1,000 "crazy cousins in Missouri. With all of those bears, you'd think each bear would be able to find a mate, but again there's always those handful of awkward bears that pull a "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and leave in search of "finding themselves" and hopefully finding love while there at it.

As black bear populations are stable or increasing in neighboring states, the Iowa DNR says "it is possible that a small population (of bears) could set up residence in Iowa."  

“Within the next three to five years, I think we can expect to see cubs show up and a small breeding population become established. If that occurs, we should look to our neighbors in Wisconsin and Minnesota who have learned to live with bears,” said Vince Evelsizer, furbearer and wetland wildlife research biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Bears like honey and pretty much anything else

While you might not want to leave a jar of honey out on the window ledge, if you know bears are around, you'll need to take some precautions. For instance, putting away the bird seed, cleaning barbeque drip pans, and keeping pet food and garbage in places bears can't access.

Fun Fact about bears in Iowa

The Iowa DNR says Iowa has been without an official resident bear population for more than 100 years, so they're not listed as a species regularly found here. In short, because they weren't present when Iowa laws were created, the Iowa DNR has no legal authority to manage bear populations. They can't add a designated protection status or add a limited hunting season. Now, don't take that as permission to go out and shoot bears, that's just mean and unnecessary.

Most bears are just lookin' for love and your food

Some bears are shy, while others...not so much. But they're rarely aggressive. Most are secretive and just want to be left alone (maybe that explains their romance issues). On the other hand,- or paw in this case, if you stumble upon "Mama bear" and her cubs, and you corner them...I hope you can run fast. Actually, in all seriousness, it's best just to back away slowly while facing the bear, make some noise so they know you're there, and start praying that "mama" has mercy on your soul.

Now scroll down and check out some other slithery things you don't want to find in the woods...

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