WENTZVILLE, Mo. – Wildlife in Wentzville is pretty common, but a bear sighting isn’t.
“I saw the trash cans laying on its side and I thought that the racoons pulled it over, so when I looked on the camera this morning, I found a bear,” Russ Hoock said.
He woke up this morning and saw an alert from his security footage showing his trash can knocked over on the side of his home. It wasn’t until he went through the security footage that he found out a bear was grabbing a snack outside his home around 1:40 a.m. Wednesday.
The bear is seen on camera coming around the corner of his home, knocking over the trash can and rummaging through the food. Hoock said his wife had thrown away healthy popcorn and a bag of tortilla chips. At first, the bear pulled out the popcorn, tried it, then went back for the tortilla chips and walked away with the bag.
“We just put a spotlight camera up about two weeks ago so I guess it really paid off for some footage,” he said.
While we interviewed Hoock Wednesday afternoon, he found the torn up, empty bag of tortilla chips in his neighbor’s yard.
Wentzville Police said they’ve had two reported bear sightings so far this year.
“We estimate that the population is about 800 bears in the state and the population is growing at about 9% per year,” Alan Leary, Wildlife Management Coordinator at the Missouri Department of Conservation, said.
Leary said this is the time of year momma bears push their 1 1/2-year-old cubs out on their own. He said this is like a cub heading off to college and trying to figure out things on their own, including where to get their food.
“The natural berries are kind of sparse right now, so they’re covering a lot of ground looking for food, and they are also looking for territories of their own to make home,” he said.
Leary said people should not leave food out because they don’t want young bears to get accustomed to getting their food from trash cans. He also said bears shouldn’t be eating human food because it’s bad for their teeth and they can’t brush them like humans do.
“Everyone needs to be bear aware and remove the food items and put their trash in the garage, or somehow seal the lid down on the trash, put the trash out the day of trash day,” he said.