WATERLOO — A wayward traveler sauntered through a Waterloo neighborhood Thursday, lumbering through people’s back yards, sniffing around their decks and causing quite a stir with local police.
Young black bear spotted rambling in Monroe County | Illinois
The rambler doesn’t have a name, but he’s a sort of celebrity — the first black bear to be seen visiting Monroe County in at least two decades.
Illinois conservation officer Don Schachner said biologists have been telling him for years that black bear populations, once eradicated from Southern Illinois, were growing and moving up from Arkansas and over from Missouri.
But Schachner said he was still skeptical when he got a call about a young, likely male, brown-faced black bear in Waterloo. He has spent a lot of time chasing tips about large carnivorous creatures that never materialized in his 22-year career.
It didn’t take long before he knew it was the real thing.
“There’s no question,” he said. “I’ve talked to two different homeowners and seen multiple pictures and confirmed it’s legitimate.”
One of those neighbors was Alan Eggemeyer, who recently moved to the area with his family after retiring from the Navy.
Eggemeyer initially thought the blur he saw from his basement window was his golden retriever, Hazard, running around the back yard. But then he realized it was a hazard of a different type.