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Missouri Department of Conservation encourages hikers to be ‘bear aware’

Updated: May. 16, 2021 at 9:09 PM CDT
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HIGHLANDVILLE, Mo. (KY3) - As the weather improves, many of us will start heading outdoors.

“We like the breath of fresh air,” said hikers Sarah Stalzer and Michael Sheets.

But we aren’t the only ones. Bears are up from their long winter naps, and conservation experts say they’re active in Missouri and Arkansas.

In springtime, the weather is not too hot, not too cold, but just right for a hike. The Missouri Department of Conservation is warning hikers to watch out, as you might just see a bear.

”Bears are getting more active this time of year,” said MDC spokesperson Francis Skalicky. “What happens is you have males that are a year, or year and a half, from being kicked away from the family because the mom has a new set of cubs now. So those males are looking for new territory, which sometimes leads them to campsites, to homes, and to residential areas.”

”My dad was hunting in Mark Twain [National Forest] and he was up in his stand. He looked down, and a bear was circling the tree below him,” said Stalzer.

”I’ve seen them out here hunting before,” said Sheets.

If you see a bear out on the trails, leave it be.

”One thing to do is try to back away. You want to leave that bear an escape route. If you see cubs, you want to get out of there as soon as possible. Any time you see cubs, you know that mom is around, and mom will protect her cubs, so you don’t want to be part of that scene,” said Skalicky.

Sarah and Michael say they already knew that.

”They stay away from you as long as you don’t mess with them. They don’t care.” said Sheets.

If a bear is where it shouldn’t be, for example, near your home or on your farm, don’t approach it, and make sure to contact your local conservation center.

For more information on how to stay “bear aware,” CLICK HERE.

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