PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is asking people to avoid the black bear currently travelling in Western Illinois.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources biologists say they’ve been monitoring the bear since it crossed into Illinois from Wisconsin earlier this month. The bear then crossed into Iowa before coming back to Illinois.
“For the most part, we’ve not seen conflicts between the public and bear until recently and, unfortunately, those conflicts were caused entirely by people,” said Stefanie Fitzsimons, district wildlife biologist, IDNR. “It’s a novelty to see a bear in Illinois, and people want to see it for themselves, but they must remember that the outcome for this bear – whether IDNR must step in and take action to protect public safety – is completely dependent on how the public react to it. If the bear is left alone, it can continue its journey safely on its own.”
Fitzsimons says the bear is likely passing through the state looking for a mate. She adds the bear likely wont stay in Illinois because it will not find its natural habitat.
Black bears are protected by the Illinois Wildlife Code and may not be hunted, killed, or harassed unless there’s a threat to a person or property.
“Certainly, the more pressure is put on the bear, the more likely we’ll see an adverse outcome,” said Captain Laura Petreikis, Illinois Conservation Police. “As is always the case, we want to ensure the safety of both people and animals. If we continue to see situations like we saw this past weekend, Conservation Police will issue tickets and make arrests to ensure the safety of both the public and the bear.”
If you see the bear, officials ask you call your local law enforcement agency.