Bear sightings in urban areas likely to increase in future

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ST. LOUIS– The black bear population is healthy and growing in Missouri and the Department of Conservation says there could even be more bear sightings in urban areas next year.

This year, the St. Louis region has had bear sightings in Richmond Heights, Chesterfield, Wentzville, and more. Typically, the sightings were in more rural areas.

Conservation agents say this is likely going to be a ‘new normal’. There has been a jump in the number of bear sightings this year, especially in urban areas.

MDC experts say it’s a strong possibility that residents could witness even more sightings in urban areas in the future.

Earlier this summer, the Missouri Department of Conservation reported Missouri is home to 800 black bears with about a 9% annual growth population.

Matt Ormbsy, a naturalist with MDC, said bears popping up in new areas is a sign Missouri has a healthy bear population and great habitats for the animal.

He explained when black bears are spotted outside of their typical habitat it is likely because adult males are pushing out the young bears.

The bears spotted in St. Louis County are young male bears between 2-years-old and 4-years-old trying to establish their own territories.

Often these bears are getting out on their own for the first time and may find themselves making not-so-smart decisions.

The conservation agents say the bears are likely looking for food. They suggest keeping your garbage secure.

You can report a bear sighting on the MDC’s website or call your local police department.

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