Bureau County bear sighted again
of GATEHOUSE NEWS SERVICE
NEPONSET—A fourth sighting of a black bear in Bureau County was reported this past week.
Randy Hasbrook, lieutenant investigator for the Bureau County Sheriff’s Office, reported that Ron Miller of rural Neponset sighted the bear Friday night south of Neponset on Kentville Road.
Hasbrook said he had “heard rumors through the grapevine” on the most recent sighting, which he confirmed in a phone conversation with Miller.
Three previous accounts of a black bear sighting near Sheffield had been documented by the sheriff’s department earlier this summer.
Miller said he was traveling east on the Kentville around 7:30 p.m. as he was returning home from the Kewanee Sale Barn.
Miller aid after cresting a small hill, he spotted the bear near the edge of a cornfield.
“I was less than 20 feet from it,” he said. “It was standing up on its hind legs and the only thing moving was its brown nose, like it was sniffing something in the air.”
Miller was on the lookout for deer, which are common in the area, and was driving cautiously. He said he actually drove past the bear before getting his jeep stopped, and then backed up to get a closer look.
“It reminded me of Smokey the Bear,” he said. “I never thought I would ever see a bear in this area.”
After a few minutes, Miller said the bear knelt down and then calmly disappeared into the cornfield.
At first, Miller only spoke about the sighting to family members, and didn’t report it to authorities.
“I didn’t want someone to shoot him,” he said. “But I figured the bear is probably out of that area by now.”
Two other sightings of a black bear were reported to Bureau County authorities on June 26.
Sheffield business owner Tim Ries reported sighting a bear on the west edge of Sheffield near the railroad tracks by the junction of Routes 34 and 6.
Another sighting was later reported by David Behrens of rural Geneseo, who was on a fishing trip with his young son at the Mautino State Fish and Wildlife Area, southwest of Sheffield.
A third sighting was later reported to authorities by Sheffield resident Robert Feurer, who saw the animal near the landscape waste dumpsite on the west side of Sheffield.
Hasbrook said all the black bear sightings are considered legitimate by the authorities.
During the earlier sightings, Hasbrook had stressed his biggest concern is that no one attempts to approach or hurt the bear.
If necessary, authorities would attempt to tranquilize the bear to relocate it.
Anyone who sees the bear, Hasbrook said, should contact the Bureau County Sheriff’s Department, (815) 875-3344.