Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bear Out There?  Hikers say Creature Spotted Near Kaolin

Anna Gazette-Democrat

A midday hike on Tuesday led two Union County residents to a surprising and totally unexpected discovery.

Cole Kilman and Carla Chackleford, both of Anna were hiking near the Kaolin Pit when they met up with an animal not normally associated with Union County.

“There was no doubt. It was a bear,” Kilman said during a telaphone Tuesday afternoon.

Kaolin Pit is located in a very isolated area west of Cobden. The area is popular among those who like to hike.

The two hikers were looking for an old cemetery. they had been hiking for about 45 minutes.

“I smelled something.” Kilman recalled. Initially, he thought what he smelled might have been a skunk.

Then, he saw something ahead. “I wasn’t exactly sure what it was,” Kilman said. Initially, he said, “I didn’t know it was a bear.”

“I thought it was a dog at first, Kilman said. As they got within about 30 to 40 feet of the animal, Kilman said it became clear what they were seeing: “It was a black bear.”

“It  got close enough for me to know it was a bear,” Kilman said.

“We took off running,” Kilman said. At one point, Kilmas said he hollered and clapped his hands in an attempt to scare off the animal.

The bear was about 3 1/2 to 4 feet tall, Kilman siad.

Kilman said he contacted the U.S. Forest Service’s Mississippi bluffs District Ranger Station in Jonesboro to share his story.

Representatives from the U.S.Forest Service and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources have been contacted about the sighting.