Illinois Department of Natural Resources officials are warning residents to keep a close eye out for a black bear traveling fast through Northern Illinois.

Normally we read worrisome headlines about people and places moving OUT of Illinois, but this one is about something alarming moving IN.

Black Bears On the Loose in Illinois?

I hate to be the BEARrer of bad news, (see what I did there?), but bears roaming throughout towns and cities in Illinois is becoming an increasing concern.

Photo by Bill Pennell on Unsplash
Photo by Bill Pennell on Unsplash

I've seen a LOT of people posting pictures and videos in the last few weeks of black bears in their yards up where my family cabin is in Wisconsin, and it now appears these bears have decided to head south for the summer.

Just last week a black bear was spotted running through the parking lot of Gurnee Mills, and now the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is reporting that the same bear was spotted in the backyard of a home in Antioch, Illinois on Sunday, June 11.

IDNR's press release says;

Wildlife biologists believe the Antioch bear is likely the same black bear that was seen in Gurnee last week. Bears are known to travel long distances. This particular bear has not caused any problems, and IDNR encourages people to let it continue its movement without interference.

What to Do If You Encounter a Black Bear

The black bear has not been seen in Illinois since Sunday, but if you live near the area it was last spotted, IDNR officials recommend moving your garbage bags and grills into a garage and to stop filling birdfeeders for a few days.

If you do encounter a bear, NEVER PLAY DEAD! Wildlife officials say playing dead is one of the worst things you can do if you come in contact with a black bear, trying to scare or fight the bear off is must wiser.


Here are more things to remember if you ever encounter a bear according to IDNR;

  • Do not run away.
  • Do not surprise a bear, make your presence known by making noise. If surprised, a bear may feel trapped or provoked which will make it much more likely to attack.
  • Never approach a bear, give it plenty of space.
  • If you are carrying food, drop it immediately and slowly back away from the bear. The same thing goes for a bear that lunges or vocalizes at you, slowly back away.

Stay aware, and stay safe!

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