Bear sightings becoming more common in Southeast Kansas

PITTSBURG, Kan.-“And I saw something in the ditch it was black. That’s definitely a bear, you could see it from that far.”

Josh Thompson was relaxing at home when he saw something out of the ordinary.

A bear in southeast Kansas.

The Baxter Springs native said he was shocked, to say the least.

“I was in complete shock, cause that’s not something you see every day. um you know I love all wildlife and I love the outdoors so like seeing a black bear in our area, it was like a surreal moment,” Thompson said.

According to wildlife experts, although these sightings are not usually common in southeast Kansas, they could start to be. 

“I wouldn’t say it’s normal really right now but I would think it’s something we should get used to here in Kansas at least in the southeast part of the state here,” said Logan Martin, a Kansas Wildlife biologist.

Martin said that because neighboring states like Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma have established bear populations, there’s a good chance that they can start spreading in the area.

“But the important thing is there’s nothing we can really do about it, if they wanna come over here there’s nothing we can really say or do about it so, it’s something we might just kind of have to get used to.”

Because of this, Martin has some tips for anyone who may encounter one of these bears.

“The number one thing you can do is try to eliminate food sources for those bears because that’s where most of the problems come from with bears.”

He adds that if you have grills, pet food, or bird seeds in feeders out, keep things clean and put away.

But most importantly, if you do spot a bear, it’s best to not make any sudden movements.

“Slowly back away, you know don’t run, because that can trigger a response from the bear, so the main thing is to stay calm and don’t freak out.”