A black bear was spotted last night in central Iowa. Poweshiek County Sheriff Tom Kriegel says the big furry creature was seen about 6:30 P.M. southeast of the town of Montezuma.

“Somebody called it in and we sent a deputy over into the area to check it out. We wanted to confirm it,” Sheriff Kriegel says. “He actually saw it a couple of times and tried to get it on the in-car camera but he wasn’t able to.”

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources sent out a staffer who, working with the deputy, located and confirmed it as a black bear, though they didn’t offer an estimate on its size. Kriegel says there have been many mountain lion sightings in his county over the years, but this is the first bear.

“They roam from time to time,” the sheriff says. “It might be a younger bear that just happened to wander down here. Kind of unusual but they’ve been spotted up in counties to our north several times.”

Residents who see the animal are warned not to approach it. “Keep some distance away from it and don’t try to corner it,” Kriegel says. “Be aware of your surroundings, too. Don’t crowd it. Hopefully, he’s just passing through and will work his way back out of the area.” He says the bear was not showing any signs of aggression and is not considered a threat.