CAMDEN COUNTY, Mo. — Authorities say a healthy black bear without a tracking collar was hit by a car and had to be put down this week.

The 300-pound black bear was seriously injured around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, near Highway 54 and Highway 73, in Macks Creek. According to Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Wildlife Damage Biologist Jim Braithwait, the bear had to be put down due to the serious nature of its injuries. Several eyewitnesses say they saw the bear walking on the side of the highway earlier in the evening, before it was struck by the vehicle.

Camden County MDC Conservation Agent Tyler Brown was the first agent to arrive on the scene. “The bear was found lying in a ditch and it could not move,” Braithwait said. “He was lifting up his head. I don’t know if he was paralyzed, or if his back was broken. He was a healthy, approximately 300-pound male black bear, in good condition, with no MDC tracking collar.”

“It was obvious the bear was not going to make it, and he was suffering,” Braithwait added. “Putting him down was the humane thing to do. It was unfortunate that he was hit, but it was dark, and he is black. They probably couldn’t see him. There were no reported injuries of the occupants of the vehicle and there was minimal damage to the car.” 

The MDC is charged with the “control, management, restoration, conservation and regulation” of the state’s wildlife, including the black bear. One of the ways they do this is through the tagging of bears to track their migration patterns. “We also checked for a permit tag,” Braithwait said. This is a type of tag that is implanted under the skin with a transmitter that can be read by agents to identify bears that are kept by permit holders.”There was no permit tag either.”

According to Braithwait, the bear’s carcass was taken to MDC headquarters in Jefferson City where they will pull hair samples for DNA testing. The information obtained from the DNA tests will enable agents to trace the bear back to the different strains of bears that are found in Missouri. “Most of our bears have migrated north from Arkansas,” Braithwait explained. “Back in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s, there was a program that trapped black bears in Minnesota and Canada, and then brought them to Arkansas and turned them loose. We can cross back and see if he is related, or part of a different population. We have found a small remnant of bears in Missouri that have been here since the 1800s. There are also some bears that have migrated to Missouri from other states on their own.”  

MDC will also test the bears teeth to get an accurate age. The hide and skin will be used for educational purposes. 

According to Braithwait, there have not been any reported sightings of bears in the last month. However, there was a sighting of a female collared bear south of Highway 54 this past summer. “She wandered up and down, traveling as much as 50 miles at a time. The last we heard she was near Bennett Springs, and out of our area,” he said. “When we got this call, I thought it was her.”

According to the MDC bear-tracking website, that sow—#1713—was in the area south of Macks Creek during September. She is three years old and just reaching sexual maturity. (The website delays the publication of tracking information by a month, to preserve the bears' privacy from folks who might want to pester them.)

Recent Reported Bear Sightings At The Lake

-Summer 2017: Female black bear with tracking collar sighted near Ha Ha Tonka State Park

-Summer 2016: Multiple bear sightings on Route P in Morgan County

-Summer 2016: A male bear with a tracking collar caused quite a stir in Osage Beach, as he ambled about a local neighborhood and took a nap in a tree.

For information on what to do if you see a bear read Be Bear Aware at https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/general-species-information/be-bear-aware

To see a map of bear sightings in Missouri visit https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/report-wildlife-sightings/bear-reports

“Bear are skittish animals and if you make some noise they will run away,” Braithwait said, “They move like deer and during the fall they are trying to put on weight for the winter. They will gorge on acorns to put on fat supplies for hibernation. I don’t suspect we will see them a lot because they won’t be out in the open, or going through trash. They will be in the woods looking for acorns. Our acorn crop if very important to bears. This year’s acorn crop is abundant due to plenty of spring rain.” 

Sightings of sows with cubs, nuisance complaints, and other incidents involving black bears in Missouri have increased significantly over the past 10-15 years, suggesting that bear populations are increasing in the state. There is an effort to manage bears in ways that minimize conflicts with humans while encouraging population expansion into compatible habitats.

Learn tips on how to be "Bear Aware" from the MDC

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