BRANSON, Mo. -

At least one black bear greeted some folks in the Branson area over the weekend, with three different reports submitted to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

One person we spoke with, who snapped the above picture, spotted the juvenile bear on Sunday off Bee Creek and Church roads: "I thought it was a statue at first because it was so big and standing still," states Tonya Blain Coker-Rantz of Branson.

Tim Russell with the Missouri Department of Conservation states sightings aren't too rare: "We're living in bear country and we're trying to get the word out."

Russell tells us that the bears present no harm if they are left alone and that they are only on the hunt for food: "They are not vicious or feared, but we want to respect them."

The best way to prevent bears from visiting your home is to take down bird feeders and stow away pet food. Russell says that garbage is also a huge draw and advises people to not leave trash bins outside for a long period of time.

An estimated 300 bears inhabit Missouri, mostly in the southern portion of the state. If you spot a Missouri black bear, you are encouraged to file a report by clicking here.