Statement by DNR Director Marc Miller
"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.
Currently black bears are not protected under state law. New legislation passed this spring adds black bears, gray wolves and mountain lions to the list of protected wildlife in Illinois. Even when signed by Gov. Quinn, the law won’t take effect until January 1, 2015. This means that immediate decisions on the fate of these animals reside with local landowners or municipalities. Once the new law takes effect, the Illinois DNR will have the exclusive statutory authority to manage these animals in Illinois.
Until that time, we recommend that homeowners in the counties where the bear has been sighted should, for a short period of time, remove their bird feeders, keep pet food inside, and secure your 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. The public is encouraged to visit the living with wildlife in Illinois website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/ for useful information.”