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.

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 a bear sign such as tracks, claws, 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 up close,
• 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 deodorant in a secure vehicle or strung high between two trees.
• Store garbage securely in a vehicle or strung between two trees. Never burn or bury garbage or food waste.
A fed bear is a dead bear.
• Never feed a 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 neighbors safe. Don’t feed bears.
Be bear aware on your property.
• 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 birdfeers from April through November in bear country. If you must, hang them at least 10 feet high and four feet away from any structure.
• Use electric fencing to keep bears away from beehives, chicken coops, vegetable gardens, orchards and other potential attractors.