HOWARD COUNTY, Iowa – A northeast Iowa farmer had quite the surprise Tuesday while working in the field.
Eric Reicks says they were finishing up harvesting the last few rows of corn when he got a call from his dad, letting him know there was something ahead of him. That something turned out to be a black bear.
Reicks posted several photos of the bear on Facebook and said it was spotted about 4 miles northwest of Schley.
Vince Evelsizer, a Furbearer with the Iowa Department of National Resources, says the photos seem to indicate the bear may have been trying to dig a den in the corn field as a place to hibernate.
Though native to Iowa, there’s no longer a breeding population of bears in the state. Young male bears do often roam and any bears seen in Iowa likely traveled to the state from populations in Minnesota or Wisconsin.
Evelsizer says he wouldn't be surprised if within the next few years a small breeding population was able to establish itself in northeast Iowa because the habitat along the Mississippi River is favorable for bears.
Sightings of a black bear were reported in Poweshiek County in September and October. In July, there were reports of a black bear being seen in Mahaska County. Evelsizer also says there have been two separate reports of bears being spotted in Winneshiek County earlier this year.
Bears are not a protected species in Iowa but Evelsizer recommends people enjoy the wildlife from a distance, instead of hunting them. If someone does shoot a bear, the DNR asks that they report it in order for the agency to be able to keep accurate records about bears in Iowa.