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Bears Sighted In The Black Hills, Officials Uncertain About Population
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Black bear sighting from Tuesday night in Rockerville, SD.
Courtesy of Ryan Bunge

Bear photos from the Rapid City area are getting attention on social media. This year the number of sightings is up.

Bears have been in an out of the Black Hills for much of the area’s history. In the late 1800s, black bears and grizzly bears were common in the western Black Hills. 

Decades later, the animals  were forced out of the area by unregulated hunting and destruction of their habitat. But in recent years, bears have started to move back into the region. 

For the past several years, Game, Fish, and Parks has logged a dozen or so confirmed bear sightings each year. This year  they've already got that many bear reports.  

Mike Klosowski  is a regional wildlife supervisor for the department. He says the bears could be migrating from eastern Wyoming. 

“Looking at the Big Horn Mountains, about 134 miles to the Bear Lodge Mountains. For a bear, for an apex predator, that seems like a long way to walk, but they absolutely can do that.” 

Klosowski says the state will monitor the animals to see if they establish a population in the Black Hills. 

“South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks, I think, we’re just really looking at: where do we have bears at, what are they doing, can we confirm any sort of reproduction; which we have not confirmed that right now, and right now we’re kind of learning as much as the bears are.”  

The agency asks for  information from the public on any bear sightings. People can send in photos from security systems or trail camera videos of  bears.  

To report a bear sighting, call the Rapid City Outdoor Campus at 605-394-2391. 

For more information on bears and potential interactions, visit