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VIDEO | DNR seeks help in confirming possible bear sighting in West Bend

April 11, 2019 – West Bend, WI – The DNR is looking for help following a report of a possible bear sighting in West Bend.

Jim Rubenzer lives on Decorah Road, in the 1400 block about a block west of Silverbrook Drive. He said Tuesday morning, April 9 around 3:30 a.m. he got up and went to the kitchen to walk off a leg cramp.

“I was in the kitchen and saw a flash of movement on the porch,” he said. “I immediately went to the east window, parted the curtains and there was the bear walking towards the street.”

DNR warden Bill Mitchell said “it is possible.”

Rubenzer, 91, walked onto the back wooden porch. “It’s funny how he would get up here because it’s pretty high,” he said.

Both Mitchell and Rubenzer were puzzled how the bear got on the porch. There were no claw marks on the wood and no paw prints in the dirt, which was still pretty hard for early April.

Mitchell said black bear are looking to feed this time of year. He said the bear could have been after Rubenzer’s bird feeder.

West Bend Police confirmed they’ve had no reports of bear sightings in the city.

Washington County Highway Commissioner Scott Schmidt said his none of his crew on the Highway Department have said anything about seeing bear in the area.

Dan Rubenzer said his father called him about spotting a bear and he believes him. “Being elderly it would be easy to dismiss this but about five years ago he said he saw a black panther behind my house and sure enough it showed up on Milwaukee television about a week later,” said Dan.

Jim Rubenzer’s home as a pretty significant open back yard. Dan Rubenzer said his dad goes to the Kettle Moraine YMCA every day and he’s extremely sharp.

Dan also said West Bend is a sanctuary for deer and the bear are just a few hours north. “There’s plenty of food for them here and the bear are thick up north,” he said.

Jim Rubenzer described the black bear as a large animal and “not a cub.”  He also confirmed, he knew it was early morning when he spotted it. “I know what you’re thinkin’ but I wasn’t drinkin’,” he said.


Mitchell asked if any neighbors on Decorah Road could check their surveillance cameras and motion detectors and see if they caught any large movement on Tuesday morning around 3:30 a.m.

“You never know… more people have cameras than you realize and maybe we’ll be able to gather more information,” he said.

In February 2018 a Nest video camera at the Brookfield home of Dan and Bridget Guerndt caught a cougar walking up to their picture window and looking inside. Mitchell is hoping someone in West Bend may have similar luck and give him a call.  Stay tuned!

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