According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, about 800 black bears are native to the state of Missouri. And as the winter season has come to a close, the bear dens are starting to open up—the MDC telling people to "Be Bear Aware."
The MDC shared via social media: "While a natural and exciting part of Missouri’s woods, black bears do not make good dinner guests. MDC recommends taking steps to avoid tempting them with human food, especially in areas where bears have been sighted"
Tom Meister, MDC Wildlife Damage Control Biologist for MDC for St. Louis had this to say, “Most of our bears are found in the southern part of the state. That’s where we have the largest tracts of forested habitat." He continues, "The bears have been out of hibernation since spring. Now they’re hungry. They were dormant for all winter, and they’re looking for food. So, we don’t want to tempt them."
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.
Read the full press release from the MDC here.