June a "bear" month for Missouri bruins

June is the month when Missourians are most likely to see a black bear. The critters are hungry after a long winter of short rations, and they get footloose, looking for anything that smells like food. Show-Me State residents are getting accustomed to seeing wild black bears, but the sighting of a female with three yearlings near Forsyth in mid-May still created a stir.

Conservation Department Wildlife Photographer Noppadol Paothong hotfooted it down to Taney County, where he captured the image seen above. It's a little hard to make out all three yearlings in the photo. Looks like one's head is visible in front of the mother's chest and the backside of the third is peeking out behind her.

I look forward to seeing my first Missouri bear. When that happens, I suppose I will experience the same mixed emotions that most people do--excitement mixed apprehension at being in the presence of a powerful animal that embodies wildness.

Maybe my first sighting will be of a track. Or, it might come on a camping trip, when a bear investigates the smell of leftovers from last night's meal. A few Missourians get their first exposure to bears when a particularly bold bruin knocks over a trash can or learns it can get a free lunch from a backyard bird feeder

Missouri's bear population is growing slowly, building on a trickle of individuals that continue to make their way north from Arkansas. Most black bears are extremely shy of humans and keep to themselves. Still, it's a good idea to know what to do if you happen on a black bear unexpectedly. It's also good to know what to do if a bear becomes a nuisance.

On a different topic, I originally intended for this blog to be interactive, as its name implies. However, it turns out that current software limitations make this impossible. Our IT folks say that I should be able to post comments and reply to yours starting late this summer or early in the fall. Until then, please don't think I'm ignoring you. If you want to chat about a post, send me an e-mail at Jim.Low@mdc.mo.gov.

By: Jim Low