By Steve Sharp
JOHNSON CREEK -- A Johnson Creek resident was able to capture images of a black bear roaming through his property on a home surveillance camera early Tuesday morning.
Later in the day, Johnson Creek Police Chief Gary Bleecker acknowledged he and his department were aware of this rare incident that occurred on the village's far north side. The animal did no damage.
"I do know there was a black bear in the village, north of Interstate 94," Bleecker said. "One of the residents who saw it caught it on a security camera about 3 a.m.
According to Bleecker, there is a thickly wooded nature area that abuts the subdivision where the bear was seen and it likely lives in there.
The resident who caught the bear on camera, Rocco Bartolotta, said he was surprised as anyone to see the images captured by his camera.
"I have not seen the bear before and to my knowledge no one else has, either," he said, adding he could speculate on how the bear came to Johnson Creek, but declined to do so. "So I guess I have no comment on that part of it. I have theories, but they are uneducated ones."
Bartolotta said he and his neighbors keep their garbage containers inside, so there wasn't much for the bear to be attracted to, except some bird feed he had outside.
"I contacted the Jefferson County DNR warden, left a message, and that is the extent of my involvement in this so far," Bartolotta said.
Bleecker said he is unsure what his Johnson Creek Police Department will be doing about the matter, other than keeping an eye out for the bear and dealing with whatever might happen. He said people should treat the bear like they might treat coyotes that inhabit the village and keep an eye on their small children and pets.
"We will be in touch with the DNR now and get their suggestions," Bleecker said. "The bear hasn't caused any issues and the surprise is that this is in southern Wisconsin. Up north, this happens all the time, but we will be in touch with the DNR. You would think there might be some garbage cans knocked over, but there was nothing like that. A black bear that is not provoked should not be a problem. We will just do our due diligence.