March 5, 2003 at 11:23 PM CST - Updated June 16 at 11:15 PM
Bear on the Loose By: Ryan Tate
(Golconda, IL)--Jerry Mullenix hasn't seen his bear, Shawnee, in more than two days.
Shawnee is his seven foot-500 pound black bear, who wondered off from Mullenix's property. According to Mullenix, this is not the first time Shawnee has left home. But this is the first time the big, black bear has done it for more than six hours.
"I have the citizens of this county to protect. The children of this county are my main thought," Pope County Sheriff A. J. Sparks said. His department has put out warnings to residents in his county not to play with Shawnee, approach him, or run from him. People are asked to call authorities if they see the bear.
Mullenix bought the bear three years ago as a cub, and raised Shawnee in his home ever since. According to the United State Department of Agriculture, Mullenix has the necessary paperwork to own the bear. According to the sheriff, Shawnee will not remain in Pope County, one way or another.
"If I have to take him down I have the ability to do that and every one of my officers and we will do just that," Sparks said.