ST. LOUIS — People across the St. Louis area have been reporting and documenting black bears roaming through their neighborhoods.
The Missouri Department of Conservation said it has received several reports of recent bear sightings in the area. Sightings have been reported in Fenton as well as in Jefferson, Franklin and Crawford counties.
Over the weekend, conservation agents tracked down a bear in St. Louis County and tranquilized it. The bear was spotted in a tree near the intersection of Buck and East Linden Avenue in Richmond Heights. Conservation agents said the bear would be taken to a less populated area and released back into the wild.
A spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Conservation says, this 150 pound bear may have been the same one spotted in Fenton, Sunset Hills, Crawford and Franklin County.
On Saturday, the Kirkwood Police Department posted photos of a black bear on Facebook and on Sunday, two 5 On Your Side viewers reported seeing a black bear in Brentwood.
Rachael Macy in Kirkwood/Oakland area wasn't expecting company Saturday evening.
"I was quietly watching TV and the dog started barking. Never thought I'd see a wild bear in front of my house!" she said.
Staying inside, she snapped away.
"I did not go outside, did not approach it," she said.
A helpful tip she picked up, as a zookeeper, working with bears for 20 years.
The bear didn't stop there and made his way to Ursuline Academy.
This was exciting news for Laura Boeker's children, students at the school.
But soon enough, they'd get lucky themselves.
Boeker and her family were driving on Sappington Road near Ursuline Academy when the bear popped up.
"Sure enough, there's a black bear galloping along the fence," Boeker said.
As a photographer Boeker didn't have her camera.. but she knew this moment needed to be snatched.
Barely containing themselves, they too, took pictures.
The best part of the sighting this time was where the bear was found.
"Ursuline's mascot is the bear!" she said.
A few other St. Louis area residents captured pictures of bears over the weekend, which can be viewed in the gallery and video below.
Bear sightings in St. Louis area
Increase in bear sightings
MDC’s research indicates Missouri is home to about 800 black bears and that population is growing by 9% each year.
“Most of our bears are found in the southern part of the state. That’s where we have the largest tracts of forested habitat,” said Tom Meister, wildlife damage control biologist for MDC’s St. Louis region, in a news release last week.
The research shows the population is expanding in numbers and range, the conservation department reported. As the population grows and expands, bears are showing up in areas further north. Late spring/early summer is also the prime time for bears to be on the move.
MDC said the recent uptick in sightings locally is likely a combination of bear range expanding and the time of year when bears can move large distances.
Meister adds, "Juvenile males usually get kicked out of family group when mom has a second set of cubs, he’s looking to establish territory."
Other males have established their areas, so this pushes some bears even further away.
MDC's tips on how 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.
MDC tips to stay safe when outdoors 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.
- Be aware of 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.
For more information on black bears, visit the Missouri Department of Conservation website.
To report a bear sighting, click here.
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