GODFREY — Authorities were out of luck on Tuesday in trying to locate a black bear that was spotted in Godfrey just one day earlier.
An employee mowing the lawn at LaVista Park along Route 3 in Godfrey saw the bear on Monday in an open area. Once the bear and the employee caught sight of each other, the bear headed for a wooded area in the 93-acre park and has not been seen since, according to Susie Stephan, Godfrey’s animal control officer.
Stephan is part of a crew that includes Illinois Department of Natural Resources staff on the lookout for what was believed to be a young adult black bear. She said it’s possible cameras will be installed to help spot the bear.
“It didn’t want to face off with him (parks employee), so there was no conflict or anything,” Stephan said, adding that because the worker was on a mower, he may have seemed “big and powerful” to the bear.
Godfrey Mayor Mike McCormick said residents should not be alarmed if they encounter a bear, but heed the tips provided by the Department of Natural Resources.
Those include: not running, surprising the bear or playing dead. It’s also advised to stand up straight and try to appear as large as possible.
The Godfrey bear sighting is one of at least a couple this year, and several over the past few years in the region.
Last year, a male bear known as Bruno was spotted in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri and had quite a following on social media. He made his way to Louisiana this year, and, after being hit by a vehicle, had to be euthanized late last month.
Black bears have been protected by Illinois Wildlife Code since 2015 and cannot be hunted, killed or harassed in the state unless there is an imminent threat to person or property.
In Missouri, the Post-Dispatch reported in June that more than 6,000 Missourians applied to join the state’s first-ever regulated bear hunt, which is set to take place in October.