The Missouri Department of Conservation says it’s important for people to know how to keep bears wild.
Black bears are native to Missouri, which means they belong in our wild spaces like forests. Because bears are exciting to see, sometimes people want to get a closer look at them by feeding them or getting closer to them. The Missouri Department of Conservation says this is not a good idea as this can lead to conflicts between bears and people, especially in the spring when bears come out of hibernation and are very hungry.
Instead, give bears their space and don’t do things to tempt them into coming near campsites or homes.
Keep campsites clean. Pick up trash and store all food and things like toothpaste and soap in a car or strung up high between two trees – out of the reach of bears.
When you spend time hiking or in the woods, make plenty of noise so you don’t surprise any bears. Sing, clap your hands or talk with your friends. It’s best to travel in a group when hiking for this and other reasons.
If a bear ever approaches you, raise your arms and try to look as big as you can. Don’t turn your back on the bear but do walk away slowly and be as loud as possible. If you have a car alarm, turn it on and it will likely scare off the bear. You can also carry bear spray, which will not hurt the bear, but make it run away from you.
Make sure to report bear sightings to the Missouri Department of Conservation. Bears are a native species in our state and we want to do our part to keep them wild.