Community Interest

Several Local Bear Sightings in Recent Days

By Dianne Sudbrock

Numerous bear sightings have been reported on the New Melle 411 Facebook in the past few days.

On Wednesday evening, May 12, a bear was sighted at a residence on Matson Hill Road, in the Defiance, Missouri area.

On Thursday, May 13, 2021, a bear was sighted in the Callaway Farms subdivision, southeast of New Melle.

On Friday morning, May 14, 2021, a photo was posted of a bear on Oak Lane off Hwy. Z, just north of New Melle. 

The sightings are intriguing, but also concerning for livestock and pet owners. Horses and cattle are also easily spooked and could run through fences if scared. Newborn calves and small pets could also be a risk. 

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A bear just outside a picture window southeast of New Melle.
Photo courtesy of Mary Bartolotta.

The Missouri Conservation website contained the following recommendations:

BE BEAR AWARE

Black bears are an exciting part of Missouri’s natural history, and they’re making a comeback in the southern part of the state. Follow these guidelines to Be Bear Aware — stay safe in bear country, and keep our bears wild.

Never feed a bear, on purpose or accidentally

  • Don’t leave pet food sitting outside. Feed pets a portion they’ll eat at each meal and remove the empty containers.
  • Store garbage, recyclables, and compost inside a secure building or in a bear-proof container until the day of trash pick-up.
  • Keep grills and smokers clean and store them inside.
  • Don’t use birdfeeders from April through November in bear country. If you must, hang them at least 10 feet high and 4 feet away from any structure.
  • Use electric fencing to keep bears away from beehives, chicken coops, vegetable gardens, orchards, and other potential food sources. 
  • Contact your county conservation agent for help with making your property unwelcoming to bears.

Report all bear sightings to Missouri Department of Conservation staff.

A fed bear is a dead bear

  • Feeding bears makes them lose their natural fear of humans and teaches them to see humans as food providers. They will learn to go to places like homes, campsites, and neighborhoods to look for food, instead of staying in the forest.
  • A bear that has gotten used to getting food from humans may become aggressive and dangerous. When this happens, the bear has to be destroyed.
  • Help bears stay wild and healthy and keep yourself and your neighbors safe. Don’t feed bears. 

BE BEAR AWARE WHILE HIKING OR CAMPING 

Stay Alert and Avoid Confrontation:

  • Make noise so you don’t surprise a bear – clap, sing, or talk loudly. Travel in a group if possible.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings and watch for bear signs such as tracks or claw or bite marks on trees.
  • Keep dogs leashed.
  • If you see a bear, leave it alone! Do not approach it. Make sure it has an escape route.

If you Encounter a Bear

  • Never corner a bear — make sure it has an escape route.
  • Back away slowly with your arms raised.
  • Speak in a calm, loud voice.
  • Do not turn your back to the bear.
  • Walk away slowly — Do not run.

Odors Attract Bears

  • Keep a clean campsite. Follow these guidelines when camping in black bear country.
  • Store all food and toiletries like toothpaste and deodorant in a secure vehicle or strung high between two trees.
  • Store garbage securely in a vehicle or strung high between two trees. Never burn or bury garbage or food waste.