Video: Black bear scampers near tollway construction site
By Rosalind Rossi Transportation Reporter June 26, 2014 4:24PM
Updated: June 26, 2014 5:29PM
Illinois Tollway Authority board members were entertained Thursday with a cell phone video of a black bear galloping across a field near a tollway work site.
A tollway bulldoze operator apparently stopped long enough on the job to pull out his cell phone and capture the black bear on June 10 as it ran across a field, 100 to 200 yards from a westbound I-90 construction zone in Boone County, between Marengo and Belvidere.
Tollway officials couldn’t help but play the video for board members at Thursday’s monthly meeting because “it’s all anyone has been talking about since we learned about this video,’’ said tollway spokeswoman Wendy Abrams. A bear spotting in Illinois is “kind of extraordinary,’’ Abrams said.
In fact, there is no established population of black bears in Illinois, but this bear has been seen roaming in seven northern Illinois counties, most bordering Wisconsin, since May 24, said a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The bear is believed to be a roughly 2-year-old young male, probably “pushed out” of its territory by its mother, said IDNR spokesman Chris Young.
At a certain age, Young said, young black bear males usually leave their homes and go look for their own territory and mate.
This bear could be looking a long time in Illinois because “there’s not habitat in Illinois that supports black bear,’’ Young said. However, central and northern Wisconsin have the kind of forest that fits them just fine, which is why IDNR officials think the bear is from Wisconsin and may eventually wind up back there.
The bear was first spotted May 24 outside Galena, and has hit Rockford, Freeport and Rochelle before its last spotting — on Tuesday in JoDaviess County, which includes Galena, where he was first seen.