Experts tell us there's no need to fear the young male black bear that was spotted wandering in Illinois the other day.
Let's just hope some terrified fool doesn't try to shoot it just to show how tough he is. Or that some well-meaning animal lover doesn't try to feed it or hug it.
Let's just leave him alone, so that he disappears into the wild, as a proper bear should.
"He's moving very fast. He's probably covering a mile an hour and is ranging all throughout northern Illinois," Marc Miller, director of the Department of Natural Resources, told me Thursday on WLS-AM 890.
Miller said the bear is not aggressive. And that's good. There are a lot of fishermen who can tell terrifying stories about problem bears.
But there's no need to worry about this bear, experts say.
"Bears, especially this time of year, are looking for berries and plants, tubers … and this bear has not been aggressive to people, has not been aggressive to plants. I think it's really trying to find its way," Miller said.
If you've planted potatoes in your garden — tubers — you might tempt him. Or if you leave garbage out or smear your dog with peanut butter and honey (or berries) and clip it to a leash in the backyard, you might tempt him. So don't do that.
Miller said the wandering Illinois bear is about 6 feet tall, with sharp teeth and claws.
He is a carnivore, yes, and he is becoming sexually active, as if the sexually active part really matters.
It especially wouldn't matter, say, if a bear were chewing through your head perhaps as calmly as a neighbor's cat chews a rabbit under your porch, making that "scronch, scronch, scronch" sound against your skull, the evening crickets chirping as witless testimony to the ridiculous end of your life.
Nothing matters then, at least not to you, especially the bear's sexual habits.
But I take the DNR at its word. Black bears are quite rare in Illinois, but Miller and his staff seem to have this one figured out. This bear doesn't seem to be aggressive. And as long as idiotic humans don't screw this up, I'm fine with it.
"One of the messages that we need to get across, we don't want to encourage it to lose that wariness, and that will turn it into, potentially, a problem bear," Miller said. "So don't feed it. Take your bird feeders down for a short period of time, and clean your grills, put them into your garage, take the trash, put them out on trash days, but not on, you know, any other days.
"Do things like that, so that we can keep this bear a wild bear, and a bear that is not going to be a nuisance bear because we want it to be free, in the wild, and eventually it will go to where there is suitable habitat."
I'm not worried about the young guy, since he was last seen around Genoa, moving south at a rapid clip. If this is true, then he's in open country, and we shouldn't be bothered about it.
What we should be worried about is whatever ran him out of his home woods.
If you've spent any time fishing in Canada or Minnesota — and there are plenty of anglers in Illinois who go up there for the walleye and northern — chances are you know what ran the young bear off.
It certainly wasn't mosquitoes or flies. It was probably a furry giant with cold, remorseless, piggy eyes.
A giant black bear that leaves his coffee-table-sized droppings outside your remote wilderness cabin, grunting, tearing off the door one day, the windows the next, then marking the ravaged cabin with his giant claws.