Hikers and campers in the Ozarks should watch out for bears

June 04, 2019 - 6:37 am

The Missouri Department of Conservation is advising campers and hikers in the Ozarks to be "bear aware."

Black bears in the Show-Me State are generally spotted south of Interstate 44. Females can weigh up to 275 pounds. Males, 550 pounds. They are powerful animals but they usually avoid confrontations with people.

That doesn't mean that attacks are unheard of.

"For backpackers, it doesn't hurt to carry some bear spray, the pepper spray, so that if a bear would ever charge, you can unleash the pepper spray on them," said Bill Graham, MDC metro media specialist.

People in the woods are advised to stay alert and make noise, like singing or clapping, so they don't surprise a bear. Never approach a bear and make sure it has an escape route. 

While a charge is unlikely, mama bears with cubs can be very protective. People who spot a black bear are asked to report it to the Conservation Department.

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