An unlikely creature has been spotted in some west central parts of the Show-Me state. According to a press release from the Missouri Department of Conservation, a black bear was spotted about five miles west of Lincoln earlier this week. It is believed this may be the same animal that has recently been on a path through Barton, Vernon, and Bates counties. Conservation Agent David Harms captured a photo of the animal in brush near a field beside Route C.
Although the mammals are native to Missouri, they are usually found in southern areas of the state. According to MDC research scientist, Jeff Beringer, the bear may be a young male. Males often will leave their home territories, but generally keep moving until they find habitat with female bears. Beringer is currently leading a study to determine the numbers and ranges of the mammals.
Most black bears shy away from people and pose little threat to livestock, however, residents are cautioned against feeding the wild animals. They’re always looking for their next meal and may become a nuisance or a danger if given food.
It is illegal to kill bears in the state of Missouri unless protecting human life or personal property. The species was almost eliminated from the state after settlement in the 180os and as habitat loss continued in the 1900s. Biologists have estimated the state’s bear population to be about 150-300 in scattered habitats. However, the current study, when completed, will develop a more accurate estimate and give a better idea where most of the state’s reclusive bears live.
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