Conservation Officials Ask: Are You Bear Aware?
The Missouri Department of Conservation is reminding citizens of its annual campaign that aims to reduce conflict with the region’s Black Bear population.
MDC Spokesman Francis Skalicky says Black Bears are an intricate part of the beauty of the Ozarks.
“Seeing a bear in the wild is a neat experience and there is nothing wrong with getting a camera to take a picture of it, get a video camera to take a video of it, but do not try to encourage this animal to stay around your home by putting out food,” Skalicky says.
Through the “Bear Aware” campaign, Missourians are encouraged not to feed Black Bears, whether intentional or unintentional. As Black Bears get fed through bird feeders and unsupervised camp sites, their ability to forage in the wild, and their natural fear of humans is diminished. That causes more and more confrontations between humans and bear populations, according to Skalicky. While these confrontations are not generally a threat to humans, he says, the property damage that these bears can accidentally incur can be an issue.
“There is a saying that a fed bear is a dead bear, and that is correct, as they become more reliant on human food sources its harder for them to forage in the wild.”
MDC recommends rural Missourians keep pet and livestock food within secured buildings, and to keep trash can lids secure. Campers and floaters in the Ozarks should always take special care to keep campsites clean, and keep any food in an enclosed container.
“If they do have bear problems they should call their nearest conservation department office or conservation agent, and our staff can come out and access the problem.”
For more information about Black Bears in the Ozarks and tips for citizens, visit the MDC website.