Bears are a powerful and often powerful symbol in Illinois — these majestic creatures can be found in many areas throughout the state. Bears were once a common sight in Illinois, with an estimated population of 5,000-7,000 during the late 1800s. However, due to the destruction of their habitat and harsher winters, bears had become much less numerous by the mid-1900s.
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Are there bears in Illinois?
Illinois is not a commonly-thought-of habitat for bears, yet the fact remains that there are most certainly bear populations within its borders. The largest of these is the American Black Bear, whose recent resurgence includes 14 distinct breeding populations in Illinois. In fact, since 2000 sightings of black bears in Illinois have actually increased across the state, from sightings occurring in only six counties to black bears being spotted in 44 of the state’s 102 counties by 2019.
Black bears in Illinois
Illinois is home to a growing population of black bears, which prefer forests and wooded areas. Sightings can vary from year to year, however, the presence of black bears in Illinois is not uncommon. In recent years, the number of black bear sightings has increased dramatically. These large, omnivorous mammals are opportunistic species that have been known to cause mischief in yards and small towns.
Bears in Illinois 2021
Bears have long been admired in Illinois, but 2021 is set up to be a particularly special year for the species. Thanks to a combination of conservation efforts, local education, and expanded bear-friendly habitat, their presence is becoming more pronounced throughout the state. As of early 2021, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has reported that up to 1,400 bears could potentially be living within the state’s borders.
A motivated philosophy graduate and student of wildlife conservation with a deep interest in human-wildlife relationships, including wildlife communication, environmental education, and conservation anthropology. Offers strong interpersonal, research, writing, and creativity skills.