Forest Hill Drive and Guerilla Hollow are closed on Sunday, May 25 due to high winds.

Black Bear Spotted at Bernheim Forest

By Andrew Berry

Black Bear in the Cypress Tupleo Swamp, likely bass fishing
Black Bear in the Cypress Tupleo Swamp, likely bass fishing

A black bear was spotted in Bernheim Forest last Sunday (July 17) in the Cypress Tupelo Swamp area of Lake Nevin, sitting in Guerilla Creek. We believe it may have been fishing in a section of the creek that had several largemouth bass swimming in a shallow pool. The bear has not been seen since Sunday, which leads us to believe it has likely moved out of the Lake Nevin area, though it could still be inside Bernheim.

It is likely a male bear that is traveling throughout Kentucky looking for mates. Sightings have occurred in several other locations in central Kentucky and southern Indiana recently. The bears are following the corridor of knobs that leads from the Appalachian Plateau into the Greater Bernheim area. It is not uncommon for several bears that make the journey during the summer, usually returning to the mountains before fall. However, with an expanding population it is only a matter of time before one of these bears sticks around.

Bears have not been documented from Bernheim in our 87 year history, though we have evidence that they previously occurred at Bernheim in the form of bear wallows (a sink in the ground capable of being made by bears) in a cave. We are excited by the latest discovery because it demonstrates connectivity between the Appalachian Plateau and the Greater Bernheim Ecosystem through forested wildlife corridors crossing the Knobs region.

Black bear tracks near Lake Nevin
Black bear tracks near Lake Nevin

Bernheim’s protection of over 14,000 acres of waterways and forests, as well as the natural lands protected by our fine neighbors, provide critical corridors for large and small mammals that move through or live in this area. The rebound of oak/hickory forests throughout the state has attracted many different kinds of wildlife, and adding this black bear to our biodiversity list brings the total number of mammals found in Bernheim to 46. We are proud that Bernheim protects and has helped reestablish a wide array of native plants and animals of all types on our land.  Due to our uniquely large forest size and the healthy habitats we have developed, Bernheim would be delighted to have a small population of black bear establish permanent residence here.

Observing a black bear in the wild is a unique and wonderful experience.   Black bear are typically shy in nature, but we remind people that they are powerful wild animals, so if you are lucky enough to observe one, please keep your distance, do not feed or follow, and as always keep your dog on leash.

We always want to know more about the wildlife within the Greater Bernheim Ecological District, so please let us know where and when bears are observed at Bernheim and surrounding lands.    Contact or call our receptionist at 502 955-8512 to report bear sightings.


Our Newsletter

Sign up for the Bernheim Buzz

Get the "buzz" of Bernheim activity weekly in your inbox by signing up below.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.