DNR: First bear sighting in Dubuque County in 5 years - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

DNR: First bear sighting in Dubuque County in 5 years

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Viewer-submitted photo of a bear on the outskirts of a lawn in Dubuque. Viewer-submitted photo of a bear on the outskirts of a lawn in Dubuque.
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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

An unlikely visitor was spotted in Dubuque Monday. 

For the first time in his five years in Dubuque County, Iowa DNR Conservation Officer Nate Johnson said a black bear was spotted.

Ginnifer Weiler, the woman who first saw and reported the presence of the bear in her backyard, lives on Julien Dubuque Drive. Police also got reports of the bear near Mt. Carmel.

Her neighbor Michelle Leland didn't see the bear, but said it was very exciting, and caused quite the commotion.

"We see turkey, deer, fox, coyotes -- but never a bear," she said.

Two doors down, Bill McDonald is also in a bit of disbelief.

"I don't know what to say about it," he said. "It's strange, it's strange -- but you know, it happens."

Johnson said he thinks the bear wandered south from Wisconsin or Minnesota.

He said that he found a paw print that measured about four inches, which means the bear weighs between 100 and 200 pounds.

The bear doesn't pose a huge threat to safety, Johnson said, but you shouldn't leave any scraps of food or anything the bear might eat outside. 

"We just want to make sure that this bear stays wild, it doesn't become accustomed to eating human food or associating humans with food," he said.

He said there are a few things you can do if you do see the bear.

First, he said, don't run away from it. You want to make noise and let the bear know you are there.

You also want to make yourself appear as large as you can.

Most likely the bear won't bother with you. He said if it is a mother with cubs, which he doesn't think it is, then you need to be more careful.

He also said you should call the police right away if you spot the bear. 

Hopefully, he said, the bear will continue to wander until it has found its way back to the wild.

"If it starts hanging around here in town, hopefully we can gently haze it out of the area, and get it back out into the country and let it go about its life," Johnson said.

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