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Black bears head out of hibernation

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO. – The arrival of summer marks an increase in Black Bear sightings in Missouri.

There are fewer than 500 Black Bears in the state, and almost all of them live south and east of Interstate 44.

But they've also been spotted as far north as the Iowa border, and within the past month there have been about 20 sightings of a bear in Jefferson County, south of St. Louis.

David Hamilton with the Missouri Department of Conservation says the bears have come out of hibernation and are looking for food, especially the males:

"Make sure that the food's put away; trash cans, picnic lunches, that sort of thing," Hamilton said. "Get it out of the bear's reach, or in a tightly-enclosed container, in a building someplace if you can, and that will minimize the encounters."

Hamilton says under no circumstance should you ever feed a bear, because it causes them to lose their fear of humans.

And if you encounter a bear in the woods, don't run.

Instead, Hamilton says to make eye contact, yell at the bear, wave at it, throw rocks at it if possible, and slowly back away.

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