BARRY, ILLINOIS – The bear that has been traveling south through Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin crossed I-72 in Pike County Monday afternoon. The Illinois State Police and Illinois Conservation Police helped shut down the highway temporarily to allow the black bear to cross safely. Authorities are reminding the public to stay at least 100 yards away from the bear. Experts say the bear is likely just passing through the state looking for a mate and won’t stay long because Illinois doesn’t provide appropriate habitat for an animal that big. Black bears are native to Illinois’ neighboring states and were common in Illinois when settlers arrived but disappeared by the mid-1880s. They are now protected by the Illinois Wildlife Code and may not be hunted, killed or harassed unless there is an imminent threat to person or property.