Friday, February 6, 2009
Illinois Black Bear Captured
This post does not relate to bigfoot or cryptid animals of any kind. Rather it deals with a known species turning up in a place it just is not supposed to be. There is an article in today's Illinois Star-Courier documenting the capture of a black bear near Neponset. It is believed to be the first black bear sighted in the state in over 40 years. You can read the article here.
The way the story has unfolded is familiar to me. The wildlife officials in Illinois have automatically assumed the bear is an escaped pet. They could be right, I suppose, but this seems to be the "go to" statement of all wildlife officials in all states when it comes to animals turning up in places, according to them, they should not be. I hear it all the time here in Texas in regard to cougar and bear sightings. If no picture, track, or other hard evidence is present the officials will claim the witness was mistaken. If tracks, a photo, or other evidence is present proving the witness did see a cougar or bear, officials will go to the "it's an escaped pet" statement.
I don't know why that seems to be the universal attitude. Life experience tells me that somehow and someway it probably boils down to money. If these animals are present in the state, or more parts of the state than previously known, then there will have to be some kind of management plan for them. This means expending more resources which means spending more money. In today's economy that just isn't good news. If the animal is endangered or threatened and is found somewhere it was not known to exist before it could also put a stop to various industries in the area. This could mean lost jobs, revenue, etc. This, too, would be most unwelcome in nearly every community.
Come to think of it, this could relate to "official" attitudes about the existence of a large primate roaming the forests of Texas. If the sasquatch were documented it would, no doubt, have to be considered endangered or, at the very least, threatened. This would be a huge pain for the powers that be. I'm also quite sure developers and the timber industry would not welcome the news. These industries have historically had a powerful voice in Texas policy making.
Again, the Illinois wildlife officials may be right. The black bear captured there may very well be somebody's pet. Just once, however, I would like to hear a wildlife official say, "We have no idea where this guy came from but we intend to find out." On second thought, that might not be a good idea. I might just keel over in shock.