Maybe he’s looking for Goldilocks and a couple of buddies.
An American black bear spotted noshing on berries near Rockford, then meandering through the Roscoe-Freeport area, appears to be on a journey south. After an unconfirmed sighting Monday in Ogle County, on state Route 64 west of Mount Vernon Road, a bruin was discovered Wednesday morning in a heavily wooded area south of Genoa, in DeKalb County.
The bear crossed the road in front of Genoa resident Steve Kleba near the intersection of state Routes 72 and 23 on Wednesday morning. Kleba pulled over and took photographs of the bear.
“It’s a black bear in DeKalb County, how surprised would you be?” Kleba told the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb. “When it crossed the road, I knew right away it wasn’t a deer or a coyote. I turned around, and sure enough, it was a bear.”
The bear is being monitored but does not appear to be aggressive, DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott told the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake.
“This bear seems non-aggressive and hasn’t been aggressive with people or property,” Scott said. “He is moving around, and we are monitoring his movements, but as long as he is non-aggressive, we are going to let him be a bear.”
The bear is believed to be the same one sighted several times recently in Stephenson, Winnebago and Boone counties, all of which border Wisconsin, where he might have originated.
“We are assuming it’s the same bear,” said Hank Frazier, Region 1 commander for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “It was at a bird feeder on Memorial Day weekend. That seems to be its M.O.: It goes to bird feeders, cleans them out and then takes off. It hasn’t been aggressive or caused any problems.”
Scott and the IDNR are advising people to keep their distance, for their sakes and for the bear’s.
“We caution everyone not to approach it, leave it alone and hopefully it will eventually move its way north,” Scott said. “If it becomes aggressive or hostile, we would have to take action, but right now, we hope it continues to stick to itself. My biggest concern is that it heads east and ends up in the more metropolitan areas.”
Black bears are not protected under state law, but legislation passed this spring adds them, gray wolves and mountain lions to the list of protected wildlife as of Jan. 1.
The IDNR will have “exclusive statutory authority to manage these animals” after the law takes effect, but until then, “immediate decisions on the fate of these animals reside with local landowners or municipalities,” agency Director Marc Miller said in a news release Wednesday morning.
Homeowners in the counties where the bear has been sighted should, for now, remove their bird feeders, keep pet food inside, and secure their trash cans and barbecue grills, Miller said.
“Help us keep this bear from being accustomed to people,” he said. “Always observe wildlife from a distance.”