Bears spotted in Fenton area; uptick of sightings in area counties

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FENTON, Mo. – There have been reports of bear sightings in the Fenton area recently. A post on Facebook says there are some in the Romaine Creek area.

FOX2 reached out to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and a spokesperson says the department has received several bear sightings yesterday and this morning. The spokesperson said he didn’t have anything to add specifically about the spotting at Romaine Creek area.

MDC said they have seen a general uptick in bear sightings in Jefferson, Franklin, and Crawford Counties recently.

“Late spring and early summer are prime times for bears to be on the move,” writes Missouri Department of Conservation Biologist Laura Conlee. “Bears are hungry and searching for food. Yearling bears are starting to wander from where they were born seeking food and areas to settle. Adult males begin moving large distances in search of females.”

Conlee says that black bears are focused on finding food as they become more active in the spring.

“It is imperative that people remove bear attractants from their property, such as bird feeders, trash, barbeque grills, pet food, and food waste,” she states. “Keeping areas free of attractants and letting bears find natural foods is in everyone’s best interest. If you see a bear, let the animal be and enjoy the sighting, but be sure to not offer it any food.”

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is warning residents to be on the lookout for black bears who make their way to Missouri in the springtime.

They say the bears come from Wisconsin looking for food and potential mates. Illinois has seen its fair share of wandering black bears through the years because of neighboring states.

The department says if you happen to see a black bear this spring or summer, you should give them plenty of space, do not feed them, and do not approach them.

The MDC says although black bears are native to Missouri, they were nearly wiped out during settlement. Now they’re making a comeback.

You can report bear sightings in both states. In Missouri, you can fill out a form on the MDC website. In Illinois, you can report sightings on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources site.

Here is a map from MDC showing where there have been sightings. The data appears to be from 2019 but you can see if there have been some in your neighborhood in the past.

Learn more about what to do if you see a black bear by visiting bebearaware.org.

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