OSAGE BEACH, Mo. — A black bear was shot in the rump with bean bags by conservation agents after eating bird seed, drinking from a hummingbird feeder and taking a nap in a tree next to a house, according to a witness. It all happened Saturday near the Grand Glaize Bridge in Osage Beach.
After well over an hour, the bear eventually grew weary of the confrontation with law enforcement and the MDC and headed back to the woods only blocks from the heart of the city.
Black Bear at Lake of the Ozarks [PHOTOS]
Lake Shots Photography captured this image an American Black Bear during a sighting and confrontation on Saturday, June 25, near the Grand Glaize Bridge in Osage Beach, Mo.
Photography by Lake Shots Photography
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A separate black bear sighting was reported by local photographer Al Griffin several weeks ago in Sunrise Beach.
“Rounding a slight curve on Lake Rd. 5-58A, my headlights picked up a black bear moving from the asphalt into the heavily wooded area along the road,” Griffin said. “As fleeting as was this encounter, it remains bright in my memory.”
It is unclear if the two sightings are of the same bear, as the American Black Bear (Ursus Americanus) is known to roam widely and swim across narrow bodies of water.
According to the MDC, the population of Black Bears in south-central Missouri numbers between 300 and 500 animals. These are mostly found in Southern and Southeastern counties, but confirmed sightings North of I-44 are not uncommon. According to the Missouri Black Bear Project website the population density in 2014 was estimated at 1.7 bears for every 38 square miles. Although there are several mothers with cubs observed in this population, most of our bears are young males. These may wander far from their home as they look for new territory or females.
The MDC tracks and maintains these animals, including relocation when necessary due to bear-human conflict.
A recent survey by Backpacker magazine reported that 40% of the respondents listed a bear as the animal they most wanted to see in the wild. The wolf was number two, and cougar came in number three.
Bear sightings can be reported on MDC’s web site where there are a few questions about the identity and contact information of the person reporting and the exact location of the bear. The department can then follow up if there are questions about the sighting.
Although our Black Bears are large, unpredictable wild animals, they really do not pose much danger to humans unless the bear is cornered or hemmed in with no way to escape. A recent article in Backpacker Magazine discussed the low number of bear attacks in North America since the year 2000. Of the 29 deaths, 15 were in Canada. To put it in perspective, the average is three deaths per year from bear attacks in North America, even though millions of people hike and camp in the woods as well as live near known bear habitat. In comparison, the article points out that 26 people are killed by dogs every year, and there are 90 lightning fatalities per year.
In a 2008 article in the Missouri Department of Conservation Magazine, Be Bear Wise in Missouri? Yes!, MDC gave the following advice for how to handle an encounter with one of our bears.
• “Bears are normally shy of humans and quickly get out of our way when they see us. If you spot a bear on a trail, if a bear is trying to get at food in your yard or campsite, or if a bear tries to approach you, here is how you should react:
• Do not approach the bear to get a better look. Slowly back away while watching the bear and wait for it to leave.
• If you are near a building or car, get inside as a precaution. If the bear was attracted to food or garbage, make sure it is removed after the bear leaves to discourage the bear from returning.
• If you are with others, stay together and act as a group. Make sure that the bear has a clear escape route, then yell and wave your arms to make yourself look bigger. Bang pots and pans—make noise somehow.
• Do not climb a tree—black bears are excellent tree climbers.
• A bear may stand upright to get a better view, make huffing or “popping” sounds, swat or beat the ground with its forepaws or even bluff charge—this means that you are too close. Back off and give the bear more space. If the bear comes within range, use pepper spray if you have it.
• If a bear is in a tree, leave it alone. Remove people and dogs from the area. The bear will usually come down and leave when it feels safe.
• It is important to keep dogs away from a bear. While a well-trained dog may deter a bear, a poorly trained one may only excite it.
• Call the Missouri Department of Conservation—we are prepared to help!”
Other resources can be found at the following web sites: