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Bear Watch: EMA says bear sighted once again at Rend Lake

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UPDATED: June 18, 2021 6:30 p.m.

FRANKLIN COUNTY (WSIL) -- There's excitement Friday night in Franklin County after confirmation of a bear sighting near Rend Lake. Dozens were out Thursday night, creating small traffic jams as they circled Rend City road.

Officials say the bear was last seen crossing near the Spillway around 2 o'clock Friday afternoon. Multiple bear sightings in southern Illinois started earlier this month, with some speculation they are most likely the same bear making its way East.

"The first time I heard about this bear was, I got a text from our family group chat saying, 'Hey, I know this sounds crazy, but there was a bear sighting in our back yard," says Sesser resident and Marina employee Reid Basso. He left work at the Marina Wednesday night, not really believing a bear was roaming in his neighborhood.

"Woke up the next morning and that's when there'd been that picture taken at the Marina, which is literally right over here," says Basso point toward the entrance of the Marina.

Franklin County Emergency Management Agency officials confirmed the bear sighting, asking for the public to keep its distance as the bear moves through the area. But Basso's coworker, Clayton Hoffard says curiosity got the better of some folks.

"They heard about it last night, and now they're, they've taken off work entirely just to drive around the campgrounds and try to find it, and try to find the path it's on," says Hoffard, adding, "And they're asking for tips."

He says visitors to Rend Lake connect with the outdoors and a bear sighting there is a rare.

"This isn't a fox, this isn't a raccoon, this is a bear, something that doesn't really migrate this way," says Hoffard. "It's really got people excited."

Activity on the lake is ramping up as temperatures rise this weekend. Officials caution people not to approach or feed the bear if they encounter it. Basso says after it was spotted near his home, and his work, his friends joked it was following him, he says it's just passing through.

"You have to be careful now, there's been a bear-sighting here," says Basso. "But I also think it's important for people to stay away from the bear and not poke around at it, don't try to do anything weird if you see it, just let it be a bear, it's a bear so, it doesn't know any better."


FRANKLIN COUNTY (WSIL) -- The Franklin County Emergency Management Agency confirms the bear sighted earlier this week, has been spotted once again.

The bear was observed Friday on the south/west side of the spillway.

Franklin County EMA first posted on Thursday that a bear had been spotted near Rend Lake.

RELATED: Bear spotted near Rend Lake

Multiple agencies, including the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Rend Lake Army Corps of Engineers, Franklin County Sheriff's Office and Franklin County Emergency Management Agency are currently monitoring the bear as it moves through the area.

It's unclear, but suspected, that the bear spotted near Rend Lake is the same one spotted in Monroe and Clinton Counties.

MORE:Black Bear spotted in southwest Illinois

The public is being asked to keep your distance if you encounter the bear. You're being asked to pay attention to your surroundings and make a special effort to be noticeable if you are in an area where this bear has been reported.

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