Residents spot bear in White Co., Ill.

Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 11:49 AM CDT
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WHITE CO., Ill. (WFIE) - At least two residents near Carmi have spotted a bear roaming around.

Mark Wheeler sent us a photo. He said it was taken west of Springerton, Illinois.

Bear sighting in Springerton, Illinois
Bear sighting in Springerton, Illinois(Mark Wheeler)

We also have photos from Sarah Haley. Her pictures were taken in the Centerville area.

Haley said they planned on taking their kids to the Mesker Park Zoo for the day, and the bear made for quite the warm-up.

She said she and her husband were shocked to see one, but her daughter wasn’t.

“Our youngest actually said, ‘Well I knew! I actually had a dream about a bear last night,’” said Haley. “So I mean I don’t know.”

Bear sighting in Centerville, Illinois
Bear sighting in Centerville, Illinois(Sarah Haley)

The bear did come as a surprise to most authorities.

Several news agencies, such as NBC Chicago, reported over the weekend that wildlife officials have been tracking a black bear in southern Illinois.

They say it was first spotted June 10 in Monroe County, near St. Louis, and has been sighted in Clinton County, Washington County, and near Rend Lake.

Wildlife officials said Illinois does not have an active breeding bear population, but neighboring states do. They said it’s not uncommon to see them cross into Illinois in search of food and potential mates.

White County Sheriff Randy Graves told 14 News he couldn’t remember ever hearing a report of a bear in the area.

We have also reached out to wildlife officials and are waiting to hear back.

Bear sighting in Centerville, Illinois
Bear sighting in Centerville, Illinois(Sarah Haley)

The sheriff advised people that if they spot a bear, they should keep their distance.

It is illegal for anyone to harass or hurt a bear unless the animal is posing a direct threat.

A few years ago, a bear was hit by a car as it crossed Interstate 64 in southern Indiana.

That happened near New Albany.

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