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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)

Sorry, guys.  Although you seem to have no problem with it, I guess it’s that “fair chase” thingy that will not allow me to rationalize any justification for baiting bears.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/26 at 09:35 AM

Spoon, you go up to canada and stomp through nasty thick stuff blindly for a week and see how much ya enough that and how many bears ya see and get back to me on that.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/26 at 09:45 AM

So, Clint, the real reason for baiting bear is to make it easier on the guy in the tree, with a higher probability to fill the permit.  Why didn’t you guys just say that right up front?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/26 at 10:09 AM

Hunting is also game management, a sport and a tool. State/Province game management agencies have quotas expected to be filled to maintain controlled yet sustainable bear populations (or at least give the appearance of it). To reach these harvest numbers in otherwise difficult conditions, they allow baiting. Easier? Yes. Less sportsman? Perhaps. Effective? You bet. Bear populations and participation in bear hunting wouldn’t be the same without it. That’s the only justification I can come up with = to simplify management. I’ve never hunted bear and I have no desire to…just sayin’.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/26 at 11:36 AM

Boone and Crockett says it is fair chase.  Anyone out there that has actually hunted bears over bait say it is not fair chase?  Or just the arm chair ethicist that know nothing about it?


If we are talking about fair chase I say we do away with spring turkey season.  Shooting a tom turkey during the peak of the breeding season is way too easy.  I propose a fall only season. Real hunters can kill turkeys in the fall.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/26 at 11:54 AM

not to get into the ethical conversation since i almost never meet a hunter with any grasp on that term.  YES its done to make it easier.  Hunting laws regular making hunting different animals ” too easy” in many cases. IE hunting animals from vehicles, hunting deer over bait, shooting turkeys out of trees.  On the other hand some laws DONT exist to make hunting different species doable/practical ie hunting quail with the use of dogs, squirrels with guns, Deer with bows and not spears.  You get the idea.  Stomping through thick canadian brush with a bow in your hand hoping to get a shot at a bear ISNT practical nor doable with any degree of expected success…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/26 at 01:59 PM

Ethics and sport are two separate things. Deer sharpshooters in urban forest preserves are known to be ethical but there’s little sport in that. Hunting is an activity for the purist and the contemporary sportsmen alike.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/27 at 07:04 AM

Leave the Bears alone. I think some hunters have lost there way. If “they” the very few become a problem then we shall deal with it. If they don’t leave them alone. On the other note, Ive never been bear hunting or never intend to. If its done correctly and the meat is used, and not just for the trophy well go at it. I hunt for meat first if it happens to have a nice mount then I guess its my lucky day if not its still my lucky day. Respect for the animal first. To many hunting shows and to many crazy people in the woods trying to be like them lol!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/27 at 08:09 AM

You guys are wearing me out…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/27 at 10:19 AM

eagleeye - I would bet everything I own that you have never been hunting a day in your life.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/27 at 10:58 AM

Mr. ajfranks you know nothing about my hunting or fishing experience. You would be a very poor soul if you bet everythng you have that I have not hunted a day of my life. If you dont agree with my post thats fine but don’t make unitelligent judgements with out having any idea who your talking to. Is it because I don’t like to shoot bears? I could care less if you do or not. I don’t need to satisfy my ego.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/27 at 01:55 PM

Okie Dokie eagleye - I hope when you are out hunting this fall you see yourself some deer with nice mounts.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/27 at 04:45 PM

AJ, you owe eageleye an apology.  Putting down a guy who puts the outdoor experience ahead of trophy kills is bad form…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/28 at 09:52 AM

Honestly no apology needed Spoon River. Guys like aj amuse me. AJ every year I get my share of venison, Ive been hunting since I was 9 so Im not to worried about that, but thanks for the gesture.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/28 at 06:54 PM

I was not putting eagleeye down because that individual puts the outdoor experience ahead of trophy ‘mounts’.  I was bagging on that individual because that individual claims to be a hunter, to add validity to its story.  Did not and still do not believe eagleye is a hunter.


“I hunt for meat first if it happens to have a nice mount then I guess its my luck day”


Yeah OK…study up, change your name and try again later.


I read a lot of comments on blogs and in response to hunting related articles.  It really burns my butt when someone claims to be a hunter to make their story more credible and then goes on a rant against their ‘fellow hunters.’  It is not hard to pick these impostors out, unless of course you are not a hunter, then they seem pretty credible.


There were a bunch of comments on a sun times article about hunting the preserves.  Some female poser gets on and tells everyone how much experience she has as a hunter.  Then says if her fellow hunters were ethical and safe, huting the preserves would not be a problem, but the majority of the male hunters she knows would not hesitate to bag a shot, even if it was not safe and unethical. 


‘Bag a shot’?  WTH does that mean?  Just say I am not a hunter and do not approve of hunting the preserves, hunting bears, whatever….


Believe me eagleye, I have gained more amusement from you than you have from me. Good luck with your bird watching.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/28 at 11:17 PM

AJ what part of the state are you from just curious. Just because someone does not conform to “your” termiology does not mean they don’t hunt or fish or trap or whatever you think they don’t do. Do you really think your God in the hunting world. Just because I hunt for meat first? You do know what a potential nice mount is? Right? I agree with the comment about the women Ive met more idiots in the woods that come to our area of the state and fling arrows at pretty much anything.Ive met them and can’t stand them. I totally agree with her. Heck yea I love bird watching frankie.lol Let me guess you have something against bird watchers also.lol. Such a negative guy, hopefully you get some help with your insecurities.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/29 at 09:18 AM

I rest my case…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/29 at 12:34 PM

Check this out!  I love to bird watch and it exasperates the hell out of my friends.

After trudging through prairie grass over my head, I’m well known for having gigantic T-Rex pheasants jump up right next to me…I swing the gun…cover the bird…and just watch him fly away as my friends all scream “SHOOT!”

Then I get to listen to them as we make our way through the grass toward where that bird went…

And I just love to bird watch as they set down in the decoys.

Like the coyotes, I hope I get the chance to bear watch and wolf watch…That would be great!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/29 at 05:24 PM

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