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Can Illinois manage bears?

May 20, 2010 at 08:14 PM

Are Momma Bear and Baby Bear wandering through Bureau County?

Many are eager to know in the wake of a reported sighting last Saturday by the Bureau County Sheriff’s Department.

After responding to calls from residents, Deputy Sheriff Sherry Barto watched through binoculars what she thought was an adult black bear and cub moving from a field into brush near Tiskilwa.

Since Saturday nobody has reported seeing the bears again.

And the Illinois Department of Natural Resources appears somewhat skeptical, though the agency did dispatch a conservation police officer on Wednesday.

“The (DNR) has not been able to confirm it,” said Januari Smith, spokesperson for the DNR. “We did have an officer in the field in the area where we got the sighting from and we were unable to see any signs or evidence of the bear.

“But we have had a few bears in Illinois in the past and we can’t completely rule it out.”

If that sounds like a lukewarm response, well don’t be surprised.

The DNR fields numerous false reports of bears, cougars and wolves every year.

But there’s another reality here, too. Finding a female bear and cub would put more pressure on the DNR to establish management policies.

At present, bears are not considered indigenous to the state and are not covered by the wildlife code. That’s true even though two bears were confirmed in Illinois last year — one captured in February in Bureau County and another that passed through JoDaviess and Stephenson counties in June.

When the Bureau County bear was trapped and sent to Woody’s Menagerie in Bond County (a questionable move that merits more explanation), the DNR was said to be pondering protection for bears, mountain lions and wolves.

The idea was not to classify them as endangered, but rather to avoid random killings. To my knowledge, little progress has been made on that front.

That’s a mistake.

Bears are steadily moving south in Wisconsin and their next logical move is obvious. Our DNR would be wise to anticipate that, not react once it happens.

Why? To protect the critters, for one thing. But also because waiting until somebody shoots a female bear could handcuff the DNR in terms of management options.

Consider the river otter. While otter numbers have soared and otters now create problems for landowners, no politician has the guts to back a trapping bill. That leaves the DNR with little control over otters.

Not that anyone expects Illinois to soon be overrun with bears. But whether there’s a bear and cub in Bureau County or not, there’s a larger issue here the DNR needs to address.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

What we need is a Bear Task Force and appoint some highly paid state employees to the board. We need to spend 1-2 million to look into this issue before we even open it up to discussion. Then, and only then will we know all the answers.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/20 at 09:37 PM

Can Illinois manage bears?..................no…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 04:55 AM

Can they, yes, will they no. The DNR is a reactive agency, not a pro active one. Always has been that way, just look at history. Just look back over the past 20 years and here are a few of examples:

1. The mussel fishing industry was huge. They allowed the commercial fishermen to overharvest the resource until the harvest had to be closed completely. They failed to act to control in the early years, even though they were warned repeatedly by the Feds and border states that things were going south. The season was restored after a while but the industry was destroyed and the resource is still depleted.
2. The exact same thing is being played out now with the sturgeon and overharvest for the caviar trade. The feds and other states want IL DNR to act before it’s too late but IL. drags it’s feet and has failed to manage before it’s too late.
3. The deer herd/non-residents/leaseing should I say more about failing to manage an issue?
4. Asian carp….......... a total lack of action until they hit Chicago, then they become a half a MILLION dollar a week management effort. And yet they are still allowing the commercial harvest of minnows from the Illinois and Mississipi Rivers? Now that is one way to make sure that everyone on every body of water in IL gets to share in Asian carp excitement. Minnow or carp fry, you sort them out in the nets.
5. CWD….......... no management there of the deer farms other than a permit requirement prior to CWD in IL despite the fact that CWD spread in other states was being traced to cervid farming. After CWD shows up, then deer farm regulation and inspection gets shared with Dept of AG, now there is good managemenmt.
6. Autumn olive, Russian Olive, Multiflora rose “managed” to be produced and distributed by state nurseries.
7. The DNR law enforcement special operations unit finally starts doing some work on the exotic pets and critter trades in IL. Then BAM, they get disbanded.
8. Wolves, bears, cats….......... managed by the head in sand method.

Get out ahead of a problem or potential problem and deal with it? Not the way DNR has historically operated. The mission statement is “We deal with the crisis of the day…........ everything else can be put off until next week”

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 07:33 AM

Some of guys want Bear Management in IL ?!? I don’t think so, this state has plenty of other ways to waste it’s resources and time. IL is simply to populated and far to many tiny woodlots amongst large Ag land that just doesn’t have any room for a Bear population! Keep it as is and let people shoot ‘em on site… like any Mtn. Lion that show up as well.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 08:36 AM

still ,no…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 08:38 AM

Lets all take a deep breath and wait and see if there really is a bear and her cub in Buerau Co.If so let her be. Then in a few years and we see more then the DNR can figure out how they can make us buy a bear watching permit and with the money they can build another bike path so we can ride up and see the bears close up. Now were taking.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 09:10 AM

“shoot ‘em on site…” for the sake of hunting in Illinois I pray that that does not happen.

If someone is stupid enough to shoot mama bear, it will be all over the Chicago news and statewide. That ‘lil bear becomes an orphan and every hunter and gun owner in Illinois will pay a heavy price. This will be both from a public relations as well as political price. It would allow the Humane Society US and PETA and every animal rights group to raise buckets of cash in this state to be used against us. Pictures of a dead bear, followed by a picture of a orphan cub in a tree (flashbacks to the orphan Smokey the Bear cub and the forest fire) on brochures, direct mail and late night TV adds. The politicians, especially in Chicago and the suburbs will be pressured to pass laws “and do something about these blood lust hunters”. They make up the majority in Springfield so get ready to pay that price also. Fortunately for us now, hunting issues are not high priority for the metro legislators, but pressure from their constituents over an orphan bear will move hunters and hunting way up their priority list.

Always keep in mind that the majority of people/voters in Illinois do not hunt. They do however support or tolerate hunting where populations of wildlife are sufficient (not rare like an Illinois bear) AND where the animal is utilized as food by the hunter. The killing of a bear in Illinois, especially one like this one with a cub, would turn that 84% non hunting majority in Illinois against us. I for one wish mama and cub to live long and prosper, even if it means captivity. I would much rather that the bear be held captive, than the hunters of Illinois be held captive by a hostile bunch of politicians.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 09:14 AM

The Colonel gets it.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 09:34 AM

Col. is right.  I could give a rats behind what suburban soccer moms think of me and the vast majority of the greater chicago area consist of ignorant, overly emotional morons.


Leave the bears alone.  It would be unethical and illegal to shoot a bear with a cub in a state that has a bear season.  So - would be really dumb and unethical to shoot a bear with a cub in a state with no season.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 09:48 AM

If they have a problem with mama and baby in Bureau County, relocate them to my property.  I’d love to see a bear now and then.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 10:57 AM

I agree with the Colonel, But I would rather see it released In WI. than some zoo.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 11:28 AM

I cant speak for every area… but if a bear ends up down here… it will be shot by some idiot… promise and yes chicago anti’s will be mad and rightly so.  There is a HUGE section of “hunters” with 0 knowledge of ethics or morels.  Im sure every area is like this….

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 11:34 AM

im not sure if illinois can manage bears or they will even have a very good reproduction rate but as far as im concerned dont make the bears a problem unless they become a problem i would much rather have a few black bears around than cougars just my personal opinion i agree with game management but dont think i would get my rocks off by shooting a bear with its head in a barrel full of bait im in the southern part of IL so it would be while before bears reach here but only time will tell

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 11:56 AM

IDNR press release: “Openening Bear Season Slow”-
The Illinois Dept.of Non-Resident Revenue believes the wet,windy,warm weather in southern Illinois, and Standing Corn in the north, may have negatively impacted the first wk of the Illinois Bear season. Only two bears were killed-both in Bureau County. But plans are still on tract to open the “Sow Only” season in September to control the exploding IL. bear population, say’s the IDNR wildlife Div.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 12:03 PM

Clintharvey,
  I would disagree with you. Most hunters have a great deal of knowledge about “morels”. In fact, they find them fairly tasty! Now their “morals”, on the other hand, may be somewhat lacking.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 12:40 PM

Words of advice for those who see the bear:Shoot, shovel and shut up. that will keep the antis out of it. enough said.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 04:22 PM

Dustin- Your comment is ignorant. If you really believe that someone should shoot these bears I really feel sorry for you. To live in that much fear must not be fun.

Posted by illin on 05/21 at 04:55 PM

From a survey i just seen it does appear the state is getting information on getting into the mass outfitting business.  With the hunter land access survey with most of the questions “how much money would it take to get hunters to access you land” and which state program would you like to see and all 4 involve land owners being paid?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 09:35 PM

I KNOW IF I WAS HUNTING AND SEEN A BEAR IT WOULD BE HARD TO PASS UP.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/21 at 11:34 PM

“there’s a larger issue here the DNR needs to adress” That about says it all!!! They still havn’t hired a turkey biologist and they wanted a 85K a year canoe guy.Now we a concerned about wolves,bears and cougars?!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/22 at 05:14 AM

Lovie Smith cant seem to get it done.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/22 at 09:11 AM

Not one more responsibility should be put on the backs of Illinois lawmakers and politicians until they can solve the problems they already have on the table.

If someone is struggling to get it done in the work place the last thing you do is give them more tasks to complete… you find out what the problem is and fix that first.

Illinois is broken and the state should do away with programs and giveaways and get their budget under control. Then we can worry about black bears!!! until then, I will SHOOT THEM ON SIGHT and add to my trophy room!!!!!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/22 at 12:14 PM

Andy Meador,
Taxidermists mount coyotes all the time and you dont have to have a tag for them. Bears in IL are the same way. Unless the law says its illegal to kill a bear in illinois, you can KILL A BEAR IN ILLINOIS LEGALLY!!!!!!!! dumby

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/22 at 08:06 PM

Remember way back when the guy that shot the eagle and took it to the taxidrmist, seems to me he got in a little pickle. It goes to show you if theres a pin head that would shoot a eagle theres one out there that would shoot a bear and most likley the cub too. By a bait pile I’ll bet then brag. Law or no law I just hope she and her cub make it. Bears in IL. cool.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 08:16 AM

I know a guy who went to Canada and assassinated a black bear over bait.  He had the hide mounted into a rug.  And yet, every time he looked at the rug, he recalled the “wail” of that mortally wounded animal.  It eventually made him so repulsed by his action that he burned the rug.  That is a true story.

The moral of the story is this…he had a conscience…unlike some of the slack-jawed yokels who have made there thoughts known on the subject of bears.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 10:04 AM

Whats the difference in shooting a deer and shooting a bear? are you a tree hugger SpoonRiver? are you against hunting?
Are bears different than deer because you think they are? if you told a story like that you must be a tree huggin peta member

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 01:03 PM

Nope, not a PETA member.  I got no use for those kind of people…just like I have little patience for people who subscribe to every deer hunting magazine known and yet, don’t own a field manual.

And if you can’t sense the difference between shooting an Illinois bear, of which there are too few, and shooting the Illinois cockroach, aka, deer, of which there are too damn many, than no amount of reasoning is going to reach you.

BTW—I’d bet I’ve done more for wildlife in Illinois and on my own farms than you ever will…you know, for the kids.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 01:20 PM

Well, Captain, what would you call it?  Hunting seems like an inappropriate term.

I’ve never been bear hunting, but I’ve had people tell me about their experience.  First, you fry up 10 pounds of bacon, put it in a bucket and place it in front of your very safe tree stand which is located in an area where bears are present.

Assassination is exactly the right word for it.  No “hunting” skill involved…just fry up some bacon.  Hell, my grandmother could do that…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 03:15 PM

Ok, somebody please give me a justifiable reason to use bait in order to hunt bear…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 03:29 PM

Hey, Andy, I appreciate the good humor.  But I’m trying to be serious.

Can anybody, and that includes the good Captain, give just one justifiable reason to use bait for bear hunting?

I can think of several reasons to do it, but none of them seem justifiable as a true sportsman.  I’ll hold those thoughts until I get a response to the question.  But my guess is that no one will answer because they know the ugly truth and they are loathe to speak it.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 04:05 PM

I can give a good reason for using bait while bear hunting. In an area where there are thousands of acres of dense woods and the bears arent heavily populated, you need a way to draw them in. You do FOODPLOTS for deer and I gaurantee you hunt the trail on the way to your foodplot. A baited area for bear is basically the same thing as a clover food plot for deer. The bait piles aren’t hunted every day, just as your clover foodplot isn’t hunted for deer everyday.

You are a peta spokesman, Spoon River!!!! Captain Bill has it right!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 05:09 PM

Pretty lame justification, if you ask me and I am sure more would agree.  By saying you need a way to draw them in, “Into what?”  You mean directly in front of your stand, right?  Too lazy to seek them out?  Afraid to get lost in the woods?  Oh, I get it, you paid for your permit, spent all that money and you want to kill more than just a few brain cells on your little outing. Is that it?

Next excuse…I mean justification, please.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 05:20 PM

Hey, Kid, after thinking about it, your reasoning is just plain stupid.  How is a bucket of bacon grease like a food plot for deer?  It’s not.  The equivalent for bacon for bears is a pile of corn, salt and apples in front of your blind…which is not a food plot….dumby.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 05:26 PM

I don’t necessarily see this as a hunting/nonhunting (aka PETA) debate. Even a lot of “nonhunters” agree that hunting is a great management tool for an overpopulated or prolific species like the Illinois whitetail. This is more a matter of ethics. Just like juicing in baseball, “hunters” that would shoot an Illinois bear at this stage deserve an * next to their names.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 05:30 PM

It has always been my dream to go on a spot and stalk deer hunt with my bow.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 06:12 PM

Anyone that rips on baiting bears, has never baited bears.


I am not talking about sitting on someone else’s bait.  I am talking about scouting, putting out your own baits and hunting those baits.


If you have not done that, you have no idea what you are talking about and you are voicing opinions only.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 08:11 PM

Exactly ajfranks. SpoonRiver and Andy Meador just like to hear themselves talk.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 08:22 PM

Oh, look!  These two guys are actually proud of baiting.  And the Captain says I’m giving PETA ammunition.

How does this sound to you?

Anyone who rips on baiting deer has never baited deer.  I am not talking about sitting on someone else’s bait.  I’m talking about scouting, putting out put your own bait and hunting those baits.
—or
Anyone who rips on baiting ducks, has never baited ducks…

Hey, Shelby Hunter…it’s that darn, pesky ethics thing, again!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 08:35 PM

Like I said spoon, you have no idea what you are talking about.  You need to get out more.  Leave that sanctuary of yours once in while.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 08:45 PM

In the area I live we have no bears or wolves for that matter.  My kids are not prepared for the possibility that they might run into one in the woods….and for what reason????  It’s not like they are prevelant in Montgomery County is it?  The state also says I don’t have the right to protect myself and carry a handgun.  Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.  It doesn’t mean someone doesn’t have ethics when theirs are different than yours….it just means their “ethics” are not the same as yours!  If I saw a bear near where my kids played I’d do what I thought needed done….no questions asked.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 08:46 PM

You’re right, Skeptic.  Ethics are who we are.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 09:09 PM

But we live in a day and age where ethics mean nothing. Just ask Blago….

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 09:17 PM

Or the guys on Wall Street…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 09:21 PM

Silly DNR.  If they want to know if there are bears in Bureau county, all they need to do is:  after church, stop by the store, buy a pound of hickory smoked, top off the thermos and then go into the woods and make a few bacon samitches.  Any bears around will surely show themselves.


If you equate baiting ducks and deer to baiting bear…you have never baited bears and you are just ignorant.  Nothing wrong with being ignorant…I am ignorant on a lot of subjects.  Difference is, I do not pretend to be an authority on those subjects.


Off topic and I apologize.  Sportspeople better get on the same page.  Traditional bow hunters do not respect the compound guys. Flintlock buck skin folks do not like the inline shooters.  Some ‘hunters’ do not like baiting bears or hunting behind hounds.  I know a lot of guys ‘out west’ that think the folks ‘back east’ that sit in a tree stand all day are an f’ing joke.  Drive deer/push deer?  You are no hunter.  On and on and on…


Better stick together or we are finished.  Arrogance and ignorance will be death of us. 


On topic - like I said before, leave the bears alone and no, IL can not manage a bake sale let alone a population of black bears.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/23 at 11:43 PM

andy meador is an idiot…......the guy has a foodplot and says he doesnt even hunt anywhere near it. HEY ANDY, FYI—If you have a foodplot and are SCOUTING your property like you say you do, then you would find the deer USING THE FOODPLOT and you would be hunting near it. Sounds like you need to put down the peta magazine and brush up on your scouting skills

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/24 at 01:24 PM

im going on a bear hunt this fall… they are using bait… And im happy for it.  When it comes to bear hunting im clueless and i want to see a bear and possibly get one.  i have seen dozens of seminars on bears AND every speaker has mentioned bait so it pretty much seems to be the standard or most common practice.  Andim pretty sure its illegal to bait traps…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/24 at 01:28 PM

For the kids, it doesnt really work that way with foodplots.  I have foodplots… that i do hunt near… that i do see 20 to 30 deer per hunt over and the mature bucks dont make it to the plot before dark.  I have 2 cameras on the plot and have 5 to 8 different shooters on them last year.  Foodplots are tools for habitat improvement not giant bait piles to eliminate all scouting techniques.  People that think food plots are this huge unfair tool used in place of baiting PROVE without a shadow of a doubt they have no clue on the movement and behavior of mature bucks.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/24 at 02:14 PM

i did hear a pretty well known trapper in this area say that he had some trap where he used marshmellows?  he seemed like a good guy so maybe there are a few times?  I wouldnt know… not a trapper.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/24 at 02:53 PM

i’ve trapped mature beaver many times….. but i’ve never used marshmellows. Usually several beers work the best

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/24 at 06:34 PM

The captain is right.


Baiting allows you to be more selective. You have time to determine if you are looking at a boar or sow.  You can make sure there are no cubs tagging along.  It is possible to set up the bait and tree stand so the bear gives you a good presentation, for a clean and ethical shot.


It is also a very effective management tool.  In most areas where bating is legal it would be hard to achieve harvest objectives with out it.


And because it is fun.  It is fun to observe bears up close, it is challenging if you are setting up your own bait site and the work is rewarding.  Collecting the bait is a big ordeal in and of itself. Then the strategy: of where and how to set up the bait site, when do you freshen the bait, when do you sit, oil or no oil, scent bags or not, spread the scent or dont disturb the area, lots of planning and strategy.   


I have done it and it is hard work and great fun and spring is a wonderful time to be in the woods.


Anything else you ‘hunters’ object to?  Hunting lions with hounds…want to do away with that as well?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/25 at 02:31 PM

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