Black Bears In Illinois

(Image by NPS Photos)

Recently there has been talk about Black Bear in the state of Illinois.  I have heard for years that there are sightings of what is known as the “honey bear” in Southern Illinois.  Then a couple of years a bear was captured in Bureau County in Northern Illinois.

Links to various articles pertaining to Black Bears in Illinois.
Bears In Illinois? Sighting Means It’s Possible

Bears Sighted In Illinois?

Black Bear And Cub Spotted Near Tiskilwa

Black Bears In Illinois

Black Bear Out There?

Black Bear Resurfaces Again East Of Neponset

Neponset Bear Captured; May Be First Ever Caught In Illinois

Southern Illinois Bear

17 Responses to “Black Bears In Illinois”

  1. Chris says:

    While in high school (1990-94), I dated a girl whose father grew up in/around El Dorado, IL (southern IL). He flat out told me that he saw bears during his childhood (1950s-60s).

  2. john white says:

    i just reported a bear cub in jim edgar panther creek state wildlife area…i saw a bear cub while fishing there and contactrd dnr…this week

  3. stancourtney says:

    Very interesting. Thanks

  4. Sheree says:

    I just took a photo of some paw prints in the snow (about 5-1/2 inches across) and we are thinking it could be a honey bear? It was up around my house where I throw out compost (kale, sweet potatoes, apple cores, etc.). I’m in Southern Illinois (8 miles south of Murphysboro right near the Shawnee NF).

  5. stancourtney says:

    I know that there has always been lots of reports of Honey Bears in Southern Illinois.

  6. Cindi Swinehart says:

    I am sure that I have spotted a small bear twice this spring near Tunnel Hill / Lake Egypt area.

  7. Mike Bernardoni says:

    Hi Stan……I think I told you once or twice before but I asked my brother an Avid Hunter and Outdoorsman if he had ever seen "Anything Unusual in the Woods while hunting?" He a matter of fact told me oh yea…"HONEY BEARS"..I said where ar? He said there is an old Quarry near Goreville, Illinois where he and his buddies hunt alot…he said we see them all the time. He said they are dark/medium brown and about the size of a medium dog. He said he has seen them up close…….they are some kind of small bear….

  8. Mike Bernardoni says:

    The "Honey Bears" "Root" around in the leaves and underbrush. Also my son in law recently told me that he has seen them while hunting in Franklin County near Benton, Illinois.. Kinda a weird but I had been in regular contact(via email) with a biologist at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge….I had pictures of a "Blond" ground hog that lives in a culvert by my mom and dad in Marion, Illinois. He told me to write him anytime I saw any unusual colored groundhog,wood chuck etc…when I posed him the question about "Honey Bears" being seen in this area he abruptly stopped all communication with me..I've tried writing him several times with no response. Mike

  9. Mike Bernardoni says:

    Sherree…..I live in Crainville…..Crab Orchard Refuge is about 4 minutes from me across Route 13.

  10. Chris says:

    There are thousands in Missouri and Wisconsin yes we have black bears in Illinois but biologists only recognize a viable breeding population. They have been a stones throw across the Mississippi River for years.

    Leave them be…they are very common in our neighboring states lets not call people to "remove them" when sighted. the Shawnee is a quarter million acres plenty of room for a small breeding population.

  11. Mike Bernardoni says:

    I totally agree with you Chris..but there are KILL EVERYTHING people out there legal or not!
    Thanks!! Mike

  12. evelyn Jones says:

    November 19, 2013. I thought what I saw was a Black Bear in Scheller, Jefferson Co., Ill.

  13. stancourtney says:

    Very interesting, reports of "Honey bears" have been going on for years in southern Illinois.

  14. Amy Hayes says:

    I saw two young bears around noon today in Union Hill/Walden Road area in Makanda (Jackson county). We live in a very wooded area down a private road. They crossed the road in front of me. I couldn’t tell if they were black or brown but they were ambling along!! At first I had a hard time comprehending what I was seeing!! They looked really cute but Im sure Mama bear is somewhere in the wooded areas around here!

  15. stancourtney says:


  16. Janet says:

    Approximately 23 yrs.ago at a family BBQ @ the in-laws we saw a momma bear and cub running in the back yard/field. Dogs were goin crazy barking but wouldn’t chase. The in laws property line was right next to a part of Shawnee nat’l forest out at Piney Creek ravine behind the Ava/Campbell Hill area.

  17. stancourtney says:

    Thanks for the report

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