MDC asks residents to “Be Bear Aware”

MISSOURI – The Missouri Department of Conservation is asking Missourians to be “Bear Aware” this year.

The MDC says the state has a bear population that currently stands at about 800 bears, but it’s growing.

They’ve provided some tips to help keep you, your family, and the bears safe.

• 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 bird feeders 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.
While black bears are generally a shy, non-aggressive species and bear attacks are rare throughout their range in North America, MDC offers these tips to stay safe when outdoors in bear country:
• Never deliberately offer a bear food!
• Keep campsites clean and store all food, toiletries, and trash in a secure vehicle or strung high between two trees.
• Do not keep food or toiletries in a tent and do not burn or bury garbage or food waste.
• Make noise, such as clapping, singing, or talking loudly, while hiking to prevent surprising a bear.
• Travel in a group if possible.
• Keep dogs leashed.
• Be aware of your surroundings. If there are signs of a bear, such as tracks or scat, avoid the area.
• Leave bears alone! Do not approach them, and make sure they have an escape route.