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Southwest Missouri may see more black bears

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) _ Black bears awakening from hibernation are now on the move and may be seen wandering around southwest Missouri.

The Joplin Globe reports that residents may see the animals in Jasper and Newton counties, as well as parts of southeast Kansas.

Frank Loncarich is a wildlife management biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. He says the potential for increased black bear sightings shouldn’t alarm people because the animals are just trying to find food and a place to settle down.

The department recommends property owners reduce the risk of bear encounters by not leaving pet food outside, storing garbage inside a secure bin and keeping grills clean. Those who see a bear shouldn’t approach the animal, but if encountered then make loud noises while appearing large to intimidate the bears.