The Ballwin Police Department is urging residents to be cautious after a black bear was spotted Sunday in a St. Louis County neighborhood.
According to a post on Facebook by the police department, a resident saw a large bear running between the Castle Pines Subdivision and Oak Run Lane.
It’s not the first time a black bear has made its way into St. Louis County, according to Tom Meister, the wildlife damage biologist of the Missouri Department of Conservation. He said the bears, especially juvenile males, have pushed into the St. Louis region.
“They may start out in the middle of the Ozarks, but they run into territory that’s already established by bigger and older males and so they keep on looking and running while the females don’t go as far,” Meister said.
The black bear population is seeing an expansion, especially in the Ozarks where there are more forested habitats. But as the population grows, more bears are moving to other forested parts of the state, including Franklin County.
Meister said while males occasionally make their way into Jefferson, St. Clair and even St. Louis counties, they likely won’t stick around.
“They are looking for new territory and they haven’t learned how to hunt and where to find food,” he said. “So they’re out exploring and trying to find their way.”
In recent months several bears have been spotted in the state, including one that was hit by a car in Cuba, Missouri, and later euthanized. Earlier this month, a black bear was reportedly seen by residents in Festus and another in Pevely.
Meister said there are several things people should do in order to keep themselves and their pets safe. Those include not running from, approaching, cornering or feeding bears.
“Don’t put your garbage out the night before like you normally do,” Meister said. “Put it out in the morning. Make sure you’re not feeding your dogs and cats outside. Do that inside. Bring in your bird feeders, because they are omnivores and they’ll eat anything that’s out there and right now they’re coming out of hibernation and they’re looking to put on calories.”
The Ballwin Police Department asks that if residents see a bear to call their dispatch line at 636-227-9636.
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