Cumberland is the largest city in Harlan County, Kentucky. The black bear (Ursus americanus) and its cubs have been seen in many areas of Cumberland.
At one time, black bears were common throughout much of the North American continent including Kentucky. The bears roamed the forests of Kentucky but by the 1900s, their population declined due to loss of their habitat and human interference.
There would be occasional sightings of black bears in the Cumberland Plateau. However, the black bear population has now increased through government efforts and in the past 20 years or so they are making a comeback in Kentucky.
Black bears are especially prevalent in Harlan and Letcher counties in Kentucky. They have also been spotted in Bell, McCreary and Wayne counties.
Although the black bear tends to have a low overall reproductive rate, there is a reproducing population in the southeastern Cumberland mountain region.
The state is currently seeing a big growth in its black bear population. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is especially interested in conserving the bears and understanding how humans could coexist in areas with bear populations.
The successful recolonization of black bears in Kentucky serves as an important case study for population growth and how large mammals can expand in the eastern U.S. It has the potential to have widespread ecological and economic consequences.
An approximate estimation of the black bear population in Kentucky by the site Wildlife Informer has listed it at 1000 bears as of 2020.