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Missouri Department of Conservation investigating deadly shooting of bear in Washington County

A spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Conservation said conservation agents believe the bear was shot on Thursday.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Conservation is investigating after a bear was found shot to death in Washington County.

Dan Zarlenga with the Missouri Department of Conservation said the MDC has seized the bear carcass as evidence and is investigating the shooting. Zarlenga said conservation agents believe the bear was shot on Thursday.

The bear that was shot was a male bear.

Zarlenga said the investigation is ongoing and no charges have been issued.

The Missouri Department of Conservation said spring and early summer are when bears start moving around. 

With the growing bear population in Missouri, it's common to see bears in Jefferson, Franklin, Washington and Crawford counties, and we've even seen bears in St. Louis County.

The Missouri Department of Conservation said the American black bear is the only species in Missouri, and there are about 800 of them in the state. 

RELATED: Bears are on the move this time of year, here's what you should and shouldn't do

MDC suggests the following tips to avoid issues if a bear has been sighted in the area.

  • Store garbage, recyclables, and compost inside a secure building or in a bear-proof container or location.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect trash containers to minimize smells that could attract bears.
  • Keep grills and smokers clean and store them inside.
  • Don’t leave pet food outside. Feed pets a portion at each meal and remove the empty containers.
  • Refrain from using birdfeeders in bear country from April through November. If in use, hang them at least 10 feet high and 4 feet away from any structure. Keep in mind that even if a bear cannot get to the birdseed, the scent could still attract it to the area.
  • Use electric fencing to keep bears away from beehives, chicken coops, vegetable gardens, orchards, and other potential food sources.

The MDC says while black bears are generally a shy, non-aggressive species and bear attacks are rare throughout their range in North America, MDC offers these tips to stay safe when hiking and camping in bear country:

  • Never deliberately offer a bear food!
  • Keep campsites clean and store all food, toiletries, and trash in a secure vehicle or strung high between two trees.
  • Do not keep food or toiletries in a tent, and do not burn or bury garbage or food waste.
  • Make noise, such as clapping, singing, or talking loudly, while hiking to prevent surprising a bear.
  • Travel in a group if possible.
  • Keep dogs leashed.
  • If hiking or camping in bear country, consider carrying bear spray. Read the instructions carefully and keep bear spray immediately available on your belt or your pack’s waist strap, not buried inside your pack.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If there are signs of a bear, such as tracks or scat, avoid the area.
  • Leave bears alone! Do not approach them, and make sure they have an escape route.

If you see a bear, you can report it online by clicking here.

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