The video of a young bear cub scampering onto a dock on Lake of the Ozarks this weekend caught the attention of many, including the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The video of a young bear cub scampering onto a dock on Lake of the Ozarks this weekend caught the attention of many, including the Missouri Department of Conservation.

MDC Statewide News Coordinator Joe Jerek said the video caught the cub doing exactly what bears do, swimming and running off into the woods. Derek said he saw the video and from the size of the cub, estimates it was about 18-months old.

The video clearly captured the cub swimming across the water before climbing up on to the dock and taking off. Jerek said bears will do their best to avoid humans and the best thing humans can do, as happened in this video, is to stay back and give bears plenty of space.

If you do come in contact with a black bear, MDC recommends you make sure you leave an escape route for them back away slowly with arms raise while making loud noises like talking, clapping or singing.

Several sightings in the last year have increased the awareness that there are bears in the lake area and the numbers may be on the rise. According to Tyler Brown, with the Missouri Department of Conservation in Camdenton, sightings at Lake of the Ozarks In recent years, bears have been captured inside the city limits of Osage Beach and Greenview.

MDC said black bears are more of a nuisance than a danger — raiding bird feeders, pet food containers and trash for food. he sightings at the Lake last year was a female bear with a MDC track collar. At the time it was believed the bear is the only female this far north in the state.

A track collar was placed on her after she had to be trapped and relocated upon entry into the city limits of Lebanon. 

Out of the three species of bears that live in the U.S. -- black bears, polar bears, and grizzlies -- the American black bear is the only species that resides in Missouri. The black bear is one of the largest and heaviest wild mammals in Missouri, some reaching up to 500 pounds. These bears were nearly eliminated from unregulated killing in the late 1800s, as well as from habitat loss when Ozark forests were logged. However, a small number of native black bears survived and reintroduction efforts in Arkansas also helped to increase their numbers in southern Missouri, according to MDC.

MDC research shows most of the black bear population resides in the southern third of the state in the Missouri Ozarks, but Missouri’s population is growing, and bears are moving into areas north of Interstate 44. Wandering bears have also been seen as far north as the Iowa-Missouri state line.

Black bears are currently a protected species in Missouri. MDC anticipates a limited hunting season as a population-management method once black bear numbers reach around 500 animals. The current estimate is about 350.