(WSIL) — The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is reminding southeast Missouri residents to “Be Bear Aware,” with now being prime time for seeing young male black bears on the move.
MDC says only one species can be found in Missouri, the American black bear, though multiple color phases can be found. Those include brown, red or cinnamon.
Bear population is expanding, both in total numbers and range, according to MDC. MDC’s ongoing bear research indicates the Show-Me-State is currently home to around 800 black bears, and that population is growing by 8% each year.
While generally not aggressive, black bears are driven to find food, and they can become accustomed to obtaining food from humans.
MDC suggests the following tips to avoid issues if a bear has been sighted in the area:
- Store garbage, recyclables, and compost inside a secure building or in a bear-proof container or location.
- Regularly clean and disinfect trash containers to minimize smells that could attract bears.
- Keep grills and smokers clean and store them inside.
- Don’t leave pet food outside. Feed pets a portion at each meal and remove the empty containers.
- Refrain from using birdfeeders in bear country from April through November. If in use, hang them at least 10 feet high and 4 feet away from any structure. Keep in mind that even if a bear cannot get to the birdseed, the scent could still attract it to the area.
- Use electric fencing to keep bears away from beehives, chicken coops, vegetable gardens, orchards, and other potential food sources.
For more on black bears in Missouri, go to mdc.mo.gov/bearaware. Report bear sightings and submit photos online at mdc.mo.gov/reportbears.