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Be Bear Aware

Mar 27, 2017

Black bears are making a comeback in Missouri’s forests. To know and understand them helps to appreciate and protect them.

Wild black bears are secretive, shy and afraid of humans. They are not normally aggressive towards people. Bears are active spring through fall. In the winter they hibernate in hollow dead trees, rock crevices, caves, or in deep brush piles.

Black bears can appear brown or tan, cinnamon or black. As omnivores, they eat everything from grasses and berries to fish and small mammals. They will eat your garbage or stored foods if you don’t keep it indoors. Feeding bears usually results in the bear having to be destroyed.

To be bear aware, stay alert and avoid surprises while in the woods. Make noise, travel in groups and keep dogs leashed. If you encounter a bear, raise your arms and back slowly away. Do not run or turn your back.

Keep clean campsites by storing food and toiletries in a vehicle trunk or up at least 10 feet high, strung between trees. If you are lucky enough to see a bear, leave them alone and help keep them wild.

Beware of Bears

  • When hiking in the woods:
    • Stay alert and avoid confrontation.
    • Make noise so you don’t surprise a bear – clap, sing, or talk loudly. Travel in a group if possible.
    • Pay attention to your surroundings and watch for bear sign such as tracks or claw or bite marks on trees.
    • If you see a bear, leave it alone! Do not approach it. Make sure it has an escape route.
  • Never feed a bear:
    • Feeding bears makes them lose their natural fear of humans, and teaches them to see humans as food providers. They will learn to go to places like homes, campsites, and neighborhoods to look for food, instead of staying in the forest.
    • A bear that has gotten used to getting food from humans may become aggressive and dangerous. When this happens, the bear has to be destroyed.
    • Help bears stay wild and healthy, and keep yourself and your neighbors safe.

Get more bear aware tips from this helpful guide from the MDC.

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