FREDERIKA — The black bear of Northeast Iowa continues to make appearances.
The Bremer County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous reports of a black bear wandering through the area in the last few days.
Motorist Jade Bergmann spotted the bear and took photos along Highway 188, a few miles from U.S. Highway 63 near Frederika.
“I spotted the black bear coming out of the ditch,” Bergmann said in an email note. “Thinking first it was a dog I slowed down and decided to take the opportunity to snap some pictures.
“Running across the road and into the field I pulled into the drive way which made he/she run the opposite direction and back across the road and into the ditch. Once I pulled back onto the road and pulled over on the side he stood up on his back legs to stand his or her’s ground.”
Dave MacDonald, a detective with the Bremer Countty Sheriff’s Office, said his office had received several calls about bear sightings in that area in recent weeks.
He said the animal posed no danger.
“Just leave it alone,” he said. “Don’t feed it, don’t encourage it to return to your property. People will start feeding them and they’ll start returning to those areas and cause issues."
The photos submitted by Bergmann indicated the animal was young, weighing, perhaps, 150 to 200 pounds, said Vince Evelsizer, fur-bearer and wetland biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Clear Lake office.
Evelsizer said a fully grown black bear can weigh as much as 800 pounds.
A bear wandering around rural Iowa is an uncommon, but not unheard-of, sight, Evelsizer said.
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“There’s been a bear making its appearance for three or four weeks; I’m guessing this is the same one,” Evelsizer said.
A bear was spotted in the Marble Rock area recently, he added.
“This may likely be the same bear and he’s making a large circle and may be heading east,” Evelsizer said. “We don’t have a breeding population of black bears in Iowa. It is typical to get one to three sighting reports per spring.”
The bear likely wandered into Northeast Iowa from Minnesota or Wisconsin, where bear populations are “fairly healthy right now, Evelsizer noted.
“It’s common for some males to disperse or spread out looking for females,” he said.
DNR does not try to capture bears or mountain lions, which also are reported in the area from time to time.
There is no danger to humans, crops or livestock, Evelsizer said.
“The advice is it is not common, so consider yourself lucky if you see one, but we encourage the public to use common sense and stay at a distance and leave it alone, and don’t harass it,” he said. “They typically have plenty of food this time of year and should not be a threat to human safety. If that changes, we would take measures.”
The bear likely will wander back to its place of origin, he noted.
Jim Offner is a reporter for the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, another Lee Enterprises newspaper.