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More black bear sightings reported in Festus area

Christina Louise Johnson recorded a video of a black bear walking through a Festus yard Tuesday morning.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. — Sightings have continued in Jefferson County in the week since a black bear was spotted walking through a Festus yard.

Missouri Department of Conservation spokesperson Dan Zarlenga confirmed that MDC agents who are in touch with Jefferson County police agencies received some bear reports Tuesday.

Resident Christina Louise Johnson shared a video with 5 On Your Side showing a black bear walking through a yard. She said it was taken around 6 a.m. Tuesday in Festus.

MDC reviewed the footage and said while it can't confirm for certain that it's the same bear that was spotted last week, they do look similar and it's a likely possibility.

"From the looks of the video, it appears the bear is investigating mulch and garbage," Zarlenga said. "An important reminder for area residents would be to encourage this bear move along by securing their trash, putting up mulch, taking in bird feeders, pet food, BBQ grills, that might attract it. Absolutely do not feed a bear on purpose!"

The sheriff's office also reminded people last week of the following tips:

  • Never feed or approach bears.
  • Keep food, garbage and recycling secured.
  • Remove bird feeders when bears are active.
  • Never leave pet food outside.
  • Clean and store grills.
  • Alert neighbors to bear activity.

The Missouri Department of Conservation also has tips on how to "Be Bear Aware." Above all, people should leave bears alone and not feed them under any circumstances, as it makes bears lose their natural fear of humans and teaches them to seek out humans as food providers.

A bear that is used to getting food from people may become aggressive and dangerous, MDC said. In that case, they'd have to be killed to keep people safe. 

To avoid confrontations, hikers and campers are recommended to make noise such as clapping, singing or talking loudly, so as not to surprise bears. Traveling in groups is recommended. 

RELATED: National Park Service: Never push a 'slower friend down' if you come across a bear

Dogs should be kept leashed and people should be aware of signs of bears, such as tracks or claw and bite marks on trees.

Anyone who encounters a bear is advised not to corner it, and to walk away slowly with their arms raised. Speak in a calm, loud voice, and walk away slowly without turning your back to the bear.

Black bears are native to Missouri, but were nearly wiped out when settlers came to the area. However, they've been making a comeback in recent years, MDC said. Most black bears live south of Interstate 44, but some wanderers, especially subadult males, have been seen as far north as the Iowa line.

For more information on black bears in Missouri, click here.

To report a bear sighting to MDC, click here.


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