Bear Sightings Provoke Frenzy in Ogle County

A black bear making its way through Illinois is turning into quite the celebrity, much to the chagrin of Ogle County and DNR officials.

The bear was spotted between 6 and 7 a.m. Wednesday outside the Pine Crest nursing home in the village of Mount Morris, about 106 miles west of Chicago.

A later sighting was reported outside a home on Brayton Road, according to village president Dan Elsasser.

The bear made its way up a tree a mile outside of town on Lowell Park Road, where police and DNR officials were trying to keep onlookers away.

"People are stopping in the middle of the road, it's kind of crazy with people trying to get a look at the bear," Elsasser said.

"Even though this is kind of exciting for our small town, a bear is not a normal occurrence. Leave it be and let it head where it is going to go. It is a wild animal. If provoked, it could turn against us."

The bear was first spotted June 7 in Rockford. A few days later it made its way toward DeKalb County before it was spotted in Ogle County last week.

"So far it hasn't demonstrated any signs of aggressiveness. It's more afraid of people right now," Elsasser said. "We're not sure where it's planning to go to, but it wants to be left alone. It hasn't demonstrated any contact with humans or shown any aggressive traits."

DNR officials say recent legislation protecting the animal, if signed by Gov. Quinn, won’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2015, meaning decisions on the fate of the animals reside with local landowners or municipalities.

Homeowners in the counties where the bear has been sighted are urged to remove their bird feeders, keep pet food inside, and secure trash cans and barbecue grills.

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