SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is asking people to stay away from a black bear that is traveling through northwestern Illinois near Henderson County.

The bear has traveled from Wisconsin, to Illinois, to Iowa. 

IDNR wants to make sure people do not bother the bear. They have been monitoring it since it crossed into Illinois on June 10.

The bear went into Iowa and then back into Illinois in southern Rock Island County June 18.

About 300 people gathered to watch the bear as it traveled through northwest Henderson County last weekend. IDNR said people were following and harassing the bear.

It was last seen June 21 going south toward Stronghurst in southern Henderson County.

While IDNR officials said they know it is a novelty to see a bear in central Illinois, people need to give it space and leave it alone so it can continue on safely.

Officials believe the bear is coming through the state looking for a mate. They do not believe it will stay long, because Illinois does not have the right habitat for an animal of its size. 

If you do happen to spot the bear, stay at least 100 yards away. You can watch it from a distance.

Black bears were common in Illinois when settlers arrived, but disappeared by the mid-1880s.

They are now protected by the Illinois Wildlife Code. They can not be hunted, killed or harassed. The only exception is if there is immediate threat to life or property.

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