Perhaps it was the 75-cent Elgin Plaza toll. Or fears of road work on the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90).
But whatever the reason, a young black bear was sighted high-tailing it away from the toll road early in the morning June 10 near Marengo, officials said at an Illinois tollway meeting Thursday.
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It's likely the same bear that is touring northern Illinois, popping up this month in spots near Rochelle and Mount Morris.
"It was pretty close to our right-of-way," Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said. "He ran across the field, more scared of the workers probably than they were of him."
The bear was caught on video by a tollway contractor who spied the animal while working on a bulldozer as part of a widening project on the Jane Addams. The sighting was near I-90 and Garden Prairie Road in Boone County between Marengo and Belvidere, spokesman Dan Rozek said.
The most recent bear appearance was Tuesday in Jo Daviess County, said Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris Young. "It has made a more than 250-mile trip around northwest and north central Illinois since May 24," Young noted in an email.
According to The Associated Press, one of the bear's latest appearances was June 18 when he climbed a farmer's oak tree in Mount Morris, a major publicity stunt that attracted a crowd of residents with their cameras.
State officials are asking the public to leave the bear in peace, and speculate he came to Illinois after other bears forced him out of his home territory. He was last thought to be heading toward northwestern Illinois.
There are no plans to trap or move the bear unless he becomes aggressive, Young told The Associated Press.
"We hope the bear's safe," Lafleur said.