A bear at the square

Bear spotted in Camdenton being tracked, agents warn against feeding

Lake Sun staff
A black bear was spotted Tuesday near the Camdenton Middle School in Camdenton.
A black bear was spotted at the intersection of Highways 5 & 54 at the Camdenton Square on Tuesday.

Motorists passing through Camdenton got an unexpected bear sighting as it meandered across the square at the four-way stop heading west.

The sighting was reported on Tuesday morning. The bear had been on Iowa Street, a block away from the intersection of Highways 5 and 54, before navigating through traffic and heading west. The bear was last seen on Ha Ha Tonka Street, heading toward a wooded area.

Camdenton Police tracked the bear as it made its way through town. They reported the bear was harmless and was not causing any problems.

It is the second time in the last several weeks a bear has been sighted in Camdenton. The previous sighting was in the vicinity of Ball Park Rd. The bear eventually made its way toward D Road, west of Camdenton, closer to Ha Ha Tonka State Park.

"As long as you don't corner them or they don't have cubs, they will wander off," Camdenton Police Chief Jeff Beauchamp said. "This was a grown bear and both ears were tagged."

Left alone, the bear will make make its way back to wooded areas, he said.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation,  sightings are becoming common and widespread as more black bears are being seen in statewide, especially in the southern half of the state.

While Missouri is only home to black bears, they can range in color from black, brown, red or cinnamon.

Generally shy, black bears are not aggressive and will try to avoid people. Late spring and early summer are the primary times for bears to be on the move. During this time, black bears may come to your property in search of food, according to Miller County Conservation Agent Eric Swainston said. The best way to keep them away is to eliminate that food source.

“We don’t want people providing food sources for bears and then having them lose their natural fear of people or associating people with getting food. Although black bear attacks are rare, leave them alone if you see them. Don’t approach them and always leave them an escape route,” he cautioned.

Intentionally feeding bears can be dangerous as it makes them comfortable around people. It can also lead to bears associating humans with food, which can lead to significant property damage while they are searching for a meal. When bears lose their fear of humans, they could approach people in search of food or may defend the food sources or the territory, which can make them dangerous, he said.

“The main way to keep bears away from your property is to eliminate any type of food they could be looking for,” Swainston said. “Store garbage indoors or in a bear-proof container or location. Regularly clean and disinfect trash containers to minimize any smells that could attract bears.  Keep barbecue grills clean and store them inside.” Bears eat a wide variety of food, but grass, berries, fruits, seeds, nuts, the inner bark of trees and roots are their main foods. They also enjoy ants, bees, honey, crickets, grasshoppers, fish, frogs, small rodents, fawns, bird eggs and carrion. Bears have also been known to eat pet food, human food waste and bird seed. “Don’t use bird feeders in bear country from April through November,” Swainston recommended. “If you want to have bird feeders out during that time, hang them at least 10 feet high and four feet away from any structure. Remember, though, that even though the bear may not be able to reach the feeder, the scent of birdseed could still attract them. Electric fences help keep bears away from beehives, chicken coops, gardens and other food sources.”

Do's and Don'ts provided by the Camdenton Police Department

It is recommended residents do the following if they encounter a bear on their property or in their neighborhood:

- Remain calm and return or remain indoors or get into a vehicle where it is safe.

- Call Law Enforcement and report the encounter, giving the bears location and or direction the bear is traveling.

- Do not approach the bear. Give it as much space as possible.

- No one should approach, corner, harass, tree, feed, or otherwise interact with the bear. This includes trying to get close to the bear to get pictures or video.

- When it’s safe to do so, remove all food attractants from the property (for example, move garbage and pet food inside; remove bird feeders).

If the bear is encountered at close range:

- Back away slowly with your arms raised.

- Speak in a loud, calm voice.

- Walk away slowly – DO NOT RUN.

- Make sure the bear has an escape route.

A bear sighting in Camdenton.
The bear seen walking in front of businesses at the Camdenton Square.