JEFFERSON CITY — The population of black bears in Missouri could be growing, with anglers, hunters and campers reporting more frequent sightings.
A scientist with the Department of Conservation, Jeff Beringer, said he believes the bears probably migrated from the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains in west and northwest Arkansas.
Firm population estimates aren't available yet, but some believe a few hundred bears could be living in Missouri.
The department recently wrote a Black Bear Management Plan.
"Our goals are to learn more about bears in the state," Beringer said.
Conservation agents believe the population of bears is scattered south of Interstate 44. However, a credible report came from Boone County and one bear was even killed in Iowa.
"We don't know a lot about the bear population," Beringer said. "We rely on the public. We record those reports and we record the number of cubs sighted."
Typically, black bears are not aggressive and only a mother near her cubs will react protectively.
Shouting, banging pots and pans, or making other loud noises typically will frighten them away, Beringer said.
He encourages people to report any sighting to the nearest Conservation Department office.