MOUNT MORRIS – The little black bear that's been wandering around northern Illinois the past few weeks was 20 feet up an oak tree, southwest of Mount Morris off Lowell Park Road, as of 1 this afternoon.
It was being ogled by a crowd of 20 or so people until police came to break up the crowd.
It's not likely to come down from the tree unless people leave it alone, said Chris Young, a spokesman with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
In fact, the bear's best chance of survival is for people to keep their distance, so it can find its way back to its natural habitat and does not become accustomed to humans.
So far, it has shown no signs of being aggressive toward people or property, the IDNR has said.
The agency has been keeping track of the bear, which was in Ogle County early last week, then spent some time in DeKalb County before heading back into Ogle on Friday.
Before that, it was sighted several times in Stephenson, Winnebago and Boone counties, all of which border Wisconsin, where it is believed to have originated.
According to the Illinois Extension Service, black bears were a source of meat and hides for early settlers in Illinois, but were eliminated from the state before 1870. The state now has no resident black bear population.
On Feb. 3, 2009 IDNR Conservation Police tranquilized a 200-pound black bear boar that had been roaming Bureau County. It first was spotted in June 2008 near Sheffield; it was near Neponset when it was caught.
That bear, which was in a state of semi hibernation, was taken to a USDA licensed facility in southern Illinois. It was thought to have been in the care of humans before being released or escaping.