PEVELY, Mo. – A black bear sighting in Jefferson County has authorities warning residents to be on the lookout.
A man in the Lynwood Mobile Home Park in Pevely saw the bear around 8 p.m. Monday as it walked through his backyard.
Conservation experts are advising residents not leave garbage sitting out, to take in any bird feeders, and make sure their pets are on a leash.
“They are cute but they’re not very cuddly,” said Haley Harris, a resident in the mobile home park.
Someone captured a picture of the adolescent bear and mobile park management contacted police.
“One of the residents in the community ran up to him shaking like a leaf on a tree is how he explained it to us and said that she had just been chased by a bear into her house,” said Pevely Police Chief Tony Moutray.
The chief said this was the first calls he’s ever gotten to report a bear in his 18 years on the force, but Allen Leary, with the Missouri Department of Conservation, said the black bear population in the state is on the rise and shared a few tips for residents that share their habitat.
“Bring in their bird feeders, don’t leave dog food out on the porch or whatever or any other kind of pet food, don’t leave food on your grill or on your smoker,” he said. “You know, seal all your trash cans so they can’t get into them.”
Leary said bears are very active this time of year and this one is probably trying to carve out its own territory.
“A fed bear is a dead bear. We are…if people continue to feed it, it’s going to get more and more habituated and used to people and loses its fear of the people and eventually it will get itself into trouble and something will have to be done,” he said.
Leary said if food isn’t easily accessible, the bear should wander off deeper into the woods. But some residents may not be willing to wait that long.
“I can’t have my daughter outside and then all of a sudden a bear starts coming around,” said Jessica Benson. “I understand that they want to live in the wooded area and all the stuff like that, but not where there’s children roaming. I don’t think that that’s right.”
Missouri has no hunting season for bears, so it’s illegal to shoot one unless it poses a threat. Animal experts said they’re best left alone.