BEAR AWARE: Missouri Highway Patrol encourages driver safety as state bear population grows

Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 4:26 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) -The Missouri Highway Patrol says as the state’s bear population grows, it’s likely bears will try to get across our highways.

“Bears are big animals, and they can move fast,” said Francis Skalicky with the Missouri Department of Conservation. “Depending on the layout of the road, vehicles can move faster. The chance of that bear getting out of the way is not very good.”

Skalicky says Missouri’s bear population is increasing by about nine percent yearly.

”That’s a pretty good growth rate, and when you have a good growth rate, you’re going to have a range that’s expanding,” Skalicky said. “In other words, bears getting into areas that are not ideal habitat, but still livable.”

MDC officials say this time of year, bear activity can be seen at any time of day. That’s why it’s important to eliminate distractions when driving to prevent crashes involving wildlife.

”Not being on your phone, not looking around inside your car, “ said Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper Samuel Carpenter. “We always want your eyes up and out the windshield of things that might come out in the roadway.”

Trooper Carpenter says an injured animal can be potentially dangerous, so if you strike a bear, don’t approach it.

“Don’t try to console it, don’t go check on it,” Carpenter said.

Skalicky says you should call 911 or your nearest conservation number.

“You don’t need to do anything yourself.”

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