Monday, May 17, 2010
Bears sighted in Illinois?
Tiskilwa (Bureau County) â€” Officially, there are no Bears loose in Illinois aside from the ones who wear helmets and shoulder pads eight Sundays a year at Soldier Field.
Unofficially, Bureau County Deputy Sheriff Sherry Barto believes she saw two of the wild, fur-covered variety Saturday morning in a field near Tiskilwa, about 50 miles north of Peoria.
People who live in the area reported seeing a mother and cub, and Barto, sure enough, saw what looked like a pair of bears about 10:30 a.m.
The animals were moving into some heavy brush, and she didnâ€™t have a chance to get a photo, she said.
Illinois Conservation Police Sgt. Robert Frazier has heard all kinds of reports about sightings in areas where wild animals shouldnâ€™t be.
â€œPeople see mountain lions. They see bears,â€ Frazier told the (Peoria) Journal Star. â€œAnd Iâ€™ve always halfway dismissed them. But then we find a mountain lion in Chicago. We find a bear in Bureau County. You canâ€™t dismiss them.â€
The mountain lion he referred to was found in Chicago in 2008, and the bear was found last year. It was hibernating in a drainage ditch near Neponset, less than 20 miles from Tiskilwa.
Frazier helped catch that bear, which was sent on to a zoo in Coal Valley in western Illinois.
A mother bear, he warned, could be aggressive.
â€œI would think her nurturing instinct would be to protect her cub,â€ Frazier said. â€œI wouldnâ€™t be traipsing around in the woods looking for it.â€
And he wonders, given the proximity to last yearâ€™s bear find, whether that bear and these two â€” if the animals spotted Saturday really were bears â€” were kept by someone on their property.
â€œPeople sometimes take wild animals from the wild,â€ Frazier said. â€œThey think theyâ€™re cute, and then the darn thing gets bigger, does damage to the home, gets out, and itâ€™s not such a good idea.â€