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Black bear fatally struck Tuesday on I-55 in Jefferson County

Following multiple black bear sightings in Jefferson County, a bear was struck at about 9 p.m. on Interstate 55 in Festus, according to MSHP.

FESTUS, Mo. — Not long after photos and videos of black bear sightings circulated online in Jefferson County, a bear was struck and killed Tuesday night in Festus, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

A car fatally struck the bear at about 9 p.m. Tuesday on northbound Interstate 55, just south of Highway A, according to MSHP. The driver was not injured in the crash.

State police said a Missouri Department of Conservation agent responded and retrieved the bear.

MSHP did not say if the bear was the one sighted last week in the yard of a Festus home.

RELATED: Jefferson County residents react to recent black bear sightings

Black bears are native to Missouri but were nearly wiped out when settlers came to the area. They've been making a comeback in recent years, according to the Department of Conservation. The department offered the following tips on how to be "bear aware" while outdoors:

  • Never feed a bear.
  • Stay alert and avoid confrontation.
  • Make noise so you don't surprise a bear, and travel in a group if possible.
  • Never corner a bear. Back away slowly with your arms raised and speak in a loud, calm voice.
  • If you're camping, keep your campsite clean and store all food and toiletries in a secure vehicle or strung high between two trees.

According to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, you can avoid drawing bears to your home by securing trash and recycling, removing bird feeders, never leaving pet food outdoors and keeping grills clean and stored away.

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