Will bear find love in Tri-States?
Maybe he'd have more success with online dating.
One bachelor has struck out in a 10-day search for a sweetheart.
Through forests, over hills, across the mighty Mississippi -- the would-be Casanova has covered an estimated 149 miles in his quest for love.
'Tis the season, said Ron Palumbo, especially if you are a black bear in your prime.
"My guess would be that this young bear is looking for a mate," said the Illinois Department of Natural Resources conservation police officer. "June is the month that black bears breed."
It appears love is the answer to a series of strange sightings in the tri-state area.
On Monday, June 8, a Castalia, Iowa, man saw the bear before a herd of cattle spooked the critter up a tree. Three days later, it popped up again -- this time on Jerome Riniker's farm near Luxemburg, Iowa. The day after that, it toppled the bird feeder in Sue Oswald's rural Dubuque backyard.
On Saturday, it padded its paws on Bellevue land, according to Corey Kettmann, who said the bear relaxed under a tree for an hour before wandering east. On Sunday, it was spotted in Clinton County.
"At this point, I would assume this could be same bear," Palumbo said. "We are not 100 percent certain, but it could easily have been the same bear."
At some point, the bear decided a swim should be on its schedule and apparently crossed the Mississippi to make an appearance in Savanna, Ill., on Wednesday.
"A bear, like any four-legged mammal, can swim," Palumbo said. "They are very strong swimmers."
Then on Thursday, he was spotted 25 miles north in Stockton on a piece of property rented by over-the-road trucker Todd Reynolds.
"I lived in Alaska, so it ain't nothing new to me," he said.
Unlike Alaska, however, Iowa and Illinois are far from bear territory. In fact, Palumbo said Iowa residents only have reported seeing a bear 17 times since 1968, although most of those sightings occurred in the past 20 years.
"Bears don't know state lines," he said. "They don't know they're not supposed to be in Illinois and Iowa."
Wisconsin remains the sole state in the area boasting black bears as an actual state species. DNR officials suspect the bear in question originated in the Wisconsin area but was pushed out by older male bears.
"We are guessing this is a younger male bear, about 2 to 3 years old, and that he is looking for a new place to call home," Palumbo said.
Although the bear might be in the market for a prime piece of real estate, potential neighbors should not be alarmed.
"He has not approached people or shown any aggression," Palumbo said. "Right now, he is just traveling around."
For that reason, the DNR considers the bear safe, for the time being. If the bear provides no threat, DNR officials will let it roam.
However, if it turns against the community, officials would tranquilize the bear.
In the meantime, the bear was last seen wandering toward Wisconsin, where he likely will be luckier in love.
"There are no lady bears in Iowa and Illinois," Palumbo said.
But Wisconsin is a different story. A happy ending could yet be in store for this bachelor.