By Vinde Wells
Mt. Morris’ wild visitor is apparently still on the move.
Although the last confirmed sighting was southwest of Mt. Morris last week, Robert Frazier, Acting Regional Commander for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday that the black bear has reportedly been seen in Carroll County as recently as Monday.
However, he said that sighting is unconfirmed.
The 200-pound male bear spent several hours in and near Mt. Morris on June 18, spending several hours in an oak tree a mile or so out of town, and then lumbering off through a cornfield to the west in the early evening.
According to Mt. Morris Police Chief Jason White, the bear sightings started early in the morning.
“Some time around 6:30 in the morning we got calls about a bear seen in the subdivision east of Dillehay Park,” he said.
Before that, the bear had been spotted in Chana on June 15.
“I feel the bear just took the railroad tracks across the river and to Mt. Morris,” he said. “That would have kept him away from people.”
Somewhere around 6:30 a.m., a Mt. Morris resident, who didn’t want to be identified, saw the bear at the railroad tracks on Ill. 64 at the east edge of town.
The bear ran west and was near the medical clinic when he last saw it.
From there the bear apparently made his way west across backyards.
He was caught on a surveillance camera at Trinity Lutheran Church running through yards on the other side of Brayton Road.
Church secretary Barb Diehl checked the tape that morning when she got to work.
“He ran from behind LaBashes toward Garrisons [a half block west],” she said.
After that several people leaving an exercise session at Dillehay Park saw the bear as he crossed Ogle Avenue.
By then, word had spread around the community about the bear’s arrival and a crowd was gathering to catch a glimpse or snap a photo.
White said he and another Mt. Morris officer, Fire Chief Rob Hough, and Ogle County Deputy Brian Ketter chased the bear out of town after it was seen in the 400 block of South McKendrie Avenue.
“We just kind of herded him south out of town,” White said. “We wanted to get him away from people.”