SULLIVAN, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation is investigating the shooting of a black bear in Washington County.
Officials said they believe the bear was shot on July 21. The remains have been secured by conservation officials and the investigation is continuing.
Some property owners at the Woodland Lake Subdivision in Sullivan said the bear was shot just outside of their community. They said they do not believe the shooting was self-defense.
Several images of the bear were captured by surveillance cameras in the community. One video shows the bear climbing through dumpsters in an attempt to find something to eat. The subdivision moved those dumpsters because conservation officials said leaving potential food in areas where bears have been located is a bad idea.
“They start becoming habituated to humans and then they start to become more and more demanding down the road,” said Dan Zarlenga, St. Louis regional media specialist, Missouri Department of Conservation.
He said humans leaving food for bears can also lead to bears eventually exhibiting aggressive behavior. Zarlenga said he encourages anyone living in a community where a bear is spotted to take down bird feeders and remove any pet food left outdoors. Other advice includes securing trash cans, cleaning off barbecue grills, or storing them indoors.
Zarlenga said residents in the St. Louis metropolitan area should expect more bear encounters in the future because the bear population is growing and moving north.
Zarlenga said he could not comment on the specifics of the investigation because it is continuing. Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact the Missouri Department of Conservation at 636-441-4554.
Zarlenga said another option to volunteer information is calling the Operation Game Thief Hotline. He said information about this, or any other suspected poaching case, can be shared at 1-800-392-1111. There is the option for a reward if there is a conviction, or callers can elect to remain anonymous as well.
For more information about being aware of the bear population in Missouri visit https://mdc.mo.gov/wildlife/wildlife-facts/be-bear-aware.