CARMI, Ill (WEHT) A bear is quickly rising to fame in the Tri-State, with people wondering – where will he or she be spotted next? DNR officials say they’ve been tracking a bear since it crossed the Mississippi River from Missouri.
The latest sighting happened Tuesday. Sarah Haley spotted a bear in her backyard in Centerville, about 3 miles north of Carmi.
Haley looked out her back window only to see a bear standing right in her yard.
“I got up and I just looked a little closer and I thought oh my gosh, that is a bear,” she said.
“My husband was getting ready to go out and ride his bike. And so I yelled at him. I said, ‘Todd, there’s a bear in our backyard.’ And he came running. And we both were in just so much disbelief that there was actually a bear in our yard. And so we’ve snapped a few pictures,” Haley added.
She posted those photos to Facebook as a heads up for friends and neighbors.
“We just wanted to make sure that our neighbors and we tried to text and call as many as we could, but we wanted to let our neighbors know that it’s out here and to be careful because there are a lot of children in the neighborhood,” Haley said.
Illinois DNR officials confirm they’ve been tracking a bear since it swam across the Mississippi River heading east. They advise folks to avoid contact, and alert wildlife officials if you see it.
Carmi residents said they’re thankful that the bear hasn’t caused any harm and said they’re definitely having a little fun with the local sightings.
“I’ve seen a lot of memes on Facebook but other than that, everybody’s having a good time with it,” said Payton Dale.
“I did see another one of my Facebook friends refer to her as Winnie,” said Abby Weiss.
“Don’t feed the bear. That’s what I’ve always been told. I don’t think this is Yogi Bear,” said Michael Fleming
People have been sending us like Bitmoji or whatever they’re called…calling him ‘Yogi,'” said Haley.
Above all, Carmi residents saying they hope he finds his way back home to a safer habitat.
“I want it to get somewhere safe,” said Weiss.
“I don’t want the bear to get hurt. I mean, there’s no reason for it. And I’m sure like I said he’s just wandered into the area,” said Fleming.
“He just turned around, and then went out back towards the woods right behind the playground and towards the woods. And then I got another picture back there. But that was it. I would say that he was here only about three minutes if even that I don’t know. But yeah, it was wild,” said Haley.
Haley said in speaking to the game warden Tuesday, that they confirmed that the bear hasn’t caused any harm. She said, regardless, they will still remain cautious and that her children will now be playing in the front yard.
Monday morning, Laci Laughard saw a bear in the Springertown area as she went out for her morning workout. But it’s not clear if it’s the same bear.
Experts say most of the time, bears are happy to go unseen by people and will move along on their own. But if you do encounter a bear, Bearwise.org has some tips to make sure you have a safe experience.