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Published on: Jun. 1, 2010

a Master Angler Program to recognize notable catches that fall short of records. For qualifying lengths and weights, visit www.MissouriConservation.org./71.


Upper Mississippi CA Blind Drawing Set For July 17

Hunters hoping to get a blind at Upper Mississippi Conservation Area need to be at the St. Charles Convention Center July 17 when the Missouri Department of Conservation holds the drawing for prime hunting spots on the 12,500-acre wetland area north of St. Louis. Registration will take place from 9 until 10:30 a.m., with the drawing at 11 a.m. The Conservation Department will provide aerial maps for winning hunters to choose their blind sites as they are drawn. Winners also select co-registrants who will occupy the blinds with them. Registrants must be 16 or older. Hunters age 16 to 64 are required to bring a 2010 Missouri Small Game Hunting Permit. All participants will need a 2010 Migratory Bird Permit, a signed 2010 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp and a photo ID. Drawing winners must also provide names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and conservation numbers for all co-registrants. Upper Mississippi CA consists of 87 tracts of federal land between Melvin Price Lock and Dam and LeGrange. For more information, call Columbia Bottom Conservation Area at 314-877-6014 or the St. Louis Regional Conservation Department Office at 636-441-4554.


St. Louis WOW Event Has Openings

The St. Louis WOW event July 9 and 10 still has room for families with children 9 and older who want to discover the challenge and excitement of activities from canoeing to rock climbing. The event in Forest Park also includes outdoor cooking, camping, fishing, archery and a youth camp for kids age 4 through 8. The cost is $10 per person or $25 per family. Financial assistance is available. Registration continues through June 18. Call 314-340-5794 for a registration packet.


Be Bear Prepared

Would you know what to do if you rounded a bend in a trail and came face to face with a bear? That still is unlikely in Missouri, but the state’s growing bear population means it is not impossible.

The Conservation Department has confirmed bear sightings in 61 of the state’s 114 counties. Ninety percent of the state’s bears live south of Interstate Highway 44. Ozark County leads the state with 102 bear sightings since 1987. Adjoining Howell and Douglas counties are second and third with 60 and 51 sightings, respectively. Counties with 40 or more sightings include Carter, Christian, Iron, Reynolds, Shannon, Stone and Taney. The cluster of bear sightings in and around Reynolds County extends north as far as Crawford, Franklin and Washington counties, each of which has produced more than 30 verified reports since 1987.

Bears are naturally shy of humans, so most meetings with bears are brief. However, accidental bear encounters can be dangerous if the bear is startled or cornered or if a person gets between a sow and her cubs.

One way to avoid surprising a bear is to make noise. Talking with companions, whistling, singing or fastening a small bell to your backpack or clothing is a wise idea in bear country.

If you see a bear that has not seen you yet, leave the area quickly and quietly. If the bear is aware of your presence, avoid eye contact, which bears perceive as aggressive behavior. Look down and walk away while speaking in a normal voice.

Although attacks by black bears are rare, they do occur. Bears can run much faster than humans, and they are excellent climbers, so fleeing or climbing a tree is pointless. The most effective strategy is to fight back with whatever you have—a knife, a rock, a stick or any other weapon. Black bear attacks have been repelled by people using nothing more than their fists. Striking a bear around the face is most effective. Pepper spray also can stop a bear attack.

Aggressive bears usually are those that have become accustomed to human presence. This most often occurs through intentional feeding. Never deliberately feed bears or allow them to raid trash, livestock feeders or other human food sources. This puts both people and bears at risk.

If you see a bear—especially an aggressive one—contact your conservation office or your local sheriff’s department immediately. The Conservation Department has specially trained employees to deal with problem or aggressive bears. For more information about living with bears, visit www.MissouriConservation.org/7835.

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