Black bears are one of Missouri’s most magnificent mammals. And it’s exciting to see one — from a distance. But waking up to a bear rummaging around in your camp can be scary. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to make it less likely that a bear will lumber in for an unexpected visit.
Never, ever feed a bear. Bears that learn to get food from people often become bold and aggressive. They may damage coolers, tents, and vehicles or harm humans. When they behave this way, the bear often must be killed.
If you hear a bear outside your tent, make sure it knows there’s a human inside. Flip on a flashlight and yell, “Go away bear!” Most bears are scared of people and will skedaddle into the woods the moment they hear, see, or smell a human.
Biologists think that between 300 and 350 black bears live in Missouri. Most live in the Ozarks, but a few have been spotted in the northern part of the state. Wherever you camp, be bear aware.
Angie Daly Morfeld
Nichole LeClair Terrill