More Illinois Bear Sightings Reported Wednesday

Black bear spotted in Genoa, near Sycamore

The Department of Natural Resources is alerting northern Illinois residents after more black bear sightings were reported in Genoa Wednesday, 60 miles northwest of Chicago.

The sighting comes days after an American black bear was spotted in Rockford over the weekend.

Steve Kleba was on his way to work near Routes 23 and 72 at around 8:15 a.m. when the bear crossed the road in front of him. He managed to get cell phone video.

"He did stop and stand up on his hind legs looking where he was going. He didn't pay attention to me at all," Kleba said.

The bear was spotted again around 10:30 a.m., a few miles down the road near Sycamore.

Wildlife experts believe it may be a young male forced to leave his home due to the birth of young cubs.

"We've had a lot of calls today about a bear in the Genoa area. We're getting Facebook notifications about the bear as well," Genoa Police Chief Ty Lynch said. "I've been in Genoa 25 years, it's the first time I've heard this."

Illinois DNR Director Marc Miller issued a statement Wednesday about the bear sightings.

“The recent sighting of an American black bear in northwest Illinois has, understandably, generated many questions. 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," Miller said.

According to the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office, a black bear sighting was reported around 10 a.m. Saturday in the 2100 block of Geddes Road.

Sgt. Robert Swank said the bear has since been seen multiple times by both officers and residents.

While black bear sightings are rare for the area, the creature has been spotted several times, including one reported sighting in nearby Stockton and another in Freeport, Swank said. It is not clear if those sightings involve the same bear.

"It's pretty coincidental to have such sightings in a small geographical area," he said.

DNR officials said recent legislation protecting the animal, if signed by Gov. Quinn, 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,” Miller said.

Miller recommends homeowners in the counties where the bear has been sighted remove their bird feeders, keep pet food inside, and secure trash cans and barbecue grills.

“By removing easy sources of food for the bear, we can encourage it to stop searching for food near homes,” Miller said.

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