Sightings of black bears, bobcats and mountain lions were frequently reported in Metro East and Southern Illinois this past summer.
Will history repeat itself this summer and give people an up-close look at the majestic yet potentially dangerous creations of Mother Nature? There has already been an unsubstantiated report so far of a cougar in Colombia.
With that in mind, here’s a rundown of the various sightings from summer 2021.
Thursday June 10
A bear has been spotted in rural Waterloo, officials said.
“It’s confirmed. There’s no question about it,” said Illinois Conservation Police officer Don Schachner.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department first reported on their Facebook page Thursday morning, June 10, the sighting of a large bear in the Chantilly Village subdivision near Old Baum Church Road in rural Waterloo.
June 13 weekend
Another bear was spotted in Metro East over the weekend of June 13, officials said.
According to the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page, the bear was in the southwest part of the county.
“It was apparently off Illinois 177 outside of Mascoutah near New Memphis,” Schachner said. “I really have no reason to doubt it. Hard to tell just from the photos if it is the same bear as the one spotted in Waterloo (June 10). So I am not able to confirm if it is the same.
Thursday June 17
Schachner confirmed that a young male black bear had been spotted in Franklin County near the south end of Rend Lake.
“I would say it’s the same bear,” Schachner said. “We haven’t had a confirmed bear sighting here for three years and it wasn’t even a sighting: it was just proof that there was one.
“I would say it was the same bear. It just makes a big loop.
Monday, June 21
The black bear seen in the area was reportedly seen in White County, about two hours southeast of Belleville. WSIL-TV reported that a resident posted photos of a bear in her backyard three miles north of Carmi.
It was never confirmed to be the same bear originally spotted in Monroe County on June 10, then in Clinton County on June 12, then in Washington County on June 15, then in the Franklin County on June 18.
Monday July 19
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources investigated a possible black bear sighting in Godfrey.
A Godfrey Parks employee believes he spotted a small black bear on Monday, July 17, at LaVista Park off Illinois 3. The next morning, the parks employee, an IDNR police officer, and the traffic control officer Village animals, Susie Stephan, met to look for further evidence of the bear’s presence.
The IDNR has never officially confirmed this alleged sighting.
Tuesday August 31
A Madison County jogger reported seeing a mountain lion on the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 31, according to an Illinois Department of Natural Resources officer.
According to the Bethalto Police Department, a man was running and claimed to have seen the animal running toward the public works complex near the intersection of Albers Lane and Whispering Oaks Drive, according to a KMOX report.
However, at the time, Schachner called it an “unverified scouting” and it was never confirmed.
Thursday September 16
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department has confirmed that a large cat has been spotted in Columbia.
Footage of the animal was captured by Portia Campbell’s Columbia surveillance camera. Monroe County Sheriff’s Department Maj. Chris Lutz confirmed the sighting Thursday afternoon.
“There are people saying it’s a cougar, a cougar, a bobcat… I watched the video, and I think it’s probably a bobcat,” he said. . “But when you watch black and white night vision video, it’s pretty hard to confirm ‘yes, that’s it’ or ‘yes, that’s it’.”
Fortunately, despite all of these sightings, there have been no reports of anyone being harmed – human or animal.