Kids wowed by black bear: "I thought he was really cool." - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Kids wowed by black bear: "I thought he was really cool."

By Jeff Angileri - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

WAUNAKEE (WKOW) -- Black bears are on the move in southern Wisconsin.

The Department of Natural Resources says this is the time of year when bears travel because of the mating season -- especially young male bears -- who are abandoned by their mothers and have to compete for breeding territory with other males.

One of the bears, estimated at 150 - 200 lbs., made it as far south as Waunakee, emerging from nearby woods, bounding into backyards and gorging the bird feeders.

The sighting caused obvious concern in the Savannah Village subdivision, but at the same time, ignited the imaginations of neighborhood children.

"It kind of frightened me at first, but then I was like, hey cool, there's a bear in my neighborhood!" said Hunter Swalve, age 10.

To the kids, the wandering bear is a novelty, an animal they've only seen in zoos, walking in their own backyards.

"It was really scary," said Lillian Thompson, age 7. "It was a black bear. Looked really furry."

"It was black with brown eyes," said Madeline Thompson, age 9. "It was small, but had big paws. Bigger than me."

While parents are urging kids to play inside, the youngsters have other ideas. After all, with youth comes bravery.

"Teenie weenie bit scared, not that bad," said Hunter Swalve. "If he comes crashing thru my screened porch then I'll be scared."

"I've actually had dreams of bears in our neighborhood. So I was all excited," said Madeline Thompson.

Even though black bear sightings are a rarity in southern Wisconsin, it's no surprise he picked the Savannah Village neighborhood outside Waunakee. Most of the homes back up to an arboretum. At the bottom of the arboretum, is a creek.

At this point, DNR officials are not planning to remove the bear from the Waunakee area.

People in the neighborhood followed DNR advice by getting rid of any food sources on their properties, from garbage cans to bird feeders.

They want this bear to move on out. As one parent put it, kids and black bears don't mix.

Still, staking him out is becoming a wonder of anticipation -- every splash, crackle, and crunch in the woods could be him.

If the bear returns, the neighborhood kids each have a plan.

"I practice running," said Hunter.

Lillian said, "I'll run upstairs, and go under the covers and call my mom."

Madeline wasn't afraid, though.

"I would get the camera and take a picture of it," she said. "I thought he was really cool."

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