As bear sightings continue in northwest Illinois, state officials recommend caution

Staff Writer
Chillicothe Times-Bulletin

Bear sightings continue in northwest Illinois.

“The recent sighting of an American black bear in northwest Illinois has, understandably, generated

many questions," said Marc Miller, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. "While these animals once roamed the Illinois landscape 150 years ago, seeing one today can be, at the very least, a startling sight.  While the black bear sighted most recently has shown no aggressive behavior towards humans, it should not be approached.  Help us keep this bear from being accustomed to people. Always observe wildlife from a distance."

In recent weeks, people have flocked to see the bear. 

Miller said that currently black bears are not protected under state law.  

"New legislation passed this spring adds black bears, gray wolves and mountain lions to the list of protected wildlife in Illinois," he said. "Even when signed by

 Gov. Quinn, the law won’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2015.  This means that immediate decisions on the fate of these animals reside with local landowners or municipalities.  Once the new law takes effect, the Illinois DNR will have the exclusive statutory authority to manage these animals in Illinois."

Until that time, IDNR recommends that homeowners in the counties where the bear has been sighted should, for a short period of time, remove their bird feeders, keep pet food inside, and secure your trash cans and barbecue grills.  By removing easy sources of food for the bear, residents can encourage it to stop searching for food near homes.  The public is encouraged to

visit the living with wildlife in Illinois website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/ for useful information.”

                      Call your local IDNR office with questions:

                      • Springfield (217) 782-6302

                      • Bartlett (847) 608-3100

                      • Clinton (217) 935-6860

                      • Alton (618) 462-1181

                      • Benton (618) 435-8138