The brothers, who are doing the Great America Loop, have been traveling waterways from Alabama, up the East Coast, across the Great Lakes and down to the Mississippi River — nearly 6,000 miles of waterways. They moved closer to the bear to video it and get a better look.
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"It was swimming east to west, but when it saw us and heard our engines, it turned and headed back to the other shore," Bates said. "We were within a couple miles of the (Logsdon) tow yard. It wasn't a very populated area. You could see RVers and some sporadic campsites, but that was it."
Bates said they moved closer but didn't want to get too close and stress the bear out, instead letting it finish its swim in peace as they passed.
Though not too familiar with bears, Bates said the bear looked like it was a juvenile about 200 pounds.
The trip along the waterways has given the brothers many interesting sights, including other wildlife.
"We saw a couple of bald eagles perched along the banks," Bates said. "But this is the first time I've ever seen a bear outside a zoo ... it was so weird seeing him there, for sure. I wish we could have gotten a better picture and video, but we didn't want to stress him out."
This is not the first bear that has been spotted recently in west-central Illinois.
A black bear has been seen in Madison County with reports of one being seen in LaVista Park in Godfrey — about 60 miles south of Jacksonville — earlier this week.
Reports of a bear in southern Illinois also have been made.
A report about the bear crossing the river in Beardstown was not made to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police.
48 Olympic athletes with Illinois ties
Aisha Praught-Leer, Jamaica: 1,500-meter run
Alyssa Naeher, United States, soccer
Andrea Filler, Italy, soccer
Casey Krueger, United States, soccer
Darryl Sullivan, United States: High jump
David Kendziera, United States: 400-meter hurdles
David Robertson, United States, baseball
DeAnna Price, United States: Hammer
Eddy Alvarez, United States, baseball
Edwin Jackson, United States, baseball
Eliza Stone, United States: Saber
Evita Griskenas, United States, rhythmic gymnastics
Felicia Stancil, United States: BMX racing
Gwen Berry, United States: Hammer
Jewell Loyd, United States, women’s basketball team
Jordan Wilimovsky, United States: 10-kilometer
Jordyn Poulter, United States, volleyball
Josh Zeid, Israel, baseball
Julie Ertz, United States, soccer
Kelsey Card, United States: Discus
Kelsey Robinson, United States, volleyball
Kent Farrington, United States: Show jumping
Kevin McDowell, United States
Laura Zeng, United States, rhythmic gymnastics
Lauren Doyle, United States, rugby
Maggie Shea, United States, sailing
Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, United States, volleyball
Mitch Glasser, Israel, baseball
Nefeli Papadakis, United States, judo
North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics team, United States: Rhythmic gymnastics team competition
Pedrya Seymour, Bahamas: 100-meter hurdles
Rajeev Ram, United States: Men’s doubles
Raven Saunders, United States: Shot put
Ryan Murphy, United States: 100- and 200-meter backstroke
Sandi Morris, United States: Pole vault
Thomas Detry, Belgium, golf
Thomas Jaeschke, United States, volleyball
Thomas Pieters, Belgium, golf
Tierna Davidson, United States, soccer
Tim Federowicz, United States, baseball
Tim Nedow, Canada: Shot put
Tomáš Satoranský, Czech Republic, men’s basketball team
Tori Franklin, United States: Triple jump
Tyson Bull, Australia: Horizontal bar
Zach LaVine, United States, men’s basketball team
Zach Ziemek, United States: Decathlon
Olivia Smoliga, United States: 400-meter freestyle relay
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