What are you in the mood for after a nice long nap? If you answered "snacks", you have something in common with bears who Missouri just warned everyone about. They are awake and on the prowl looking for food.

The bear population continues to grow in Missouri and they continue to migrate further to the north and east. This also happens to be the time of year when these big apex predators wake up from their long nap and begin to search for food sources as the Missouri Department of Conservation just warned.

The good news is that bears are not necessarily looking for you. As the state of Missouri mentions on their American Black Bear website, these animals are actually herbivores primarily seeking berries and vegetation. They tend to shy away from human contact providing that they know a human is present. However, there are several scenarios where a bear/human encounter can turn dangerous:

  • When a bear feels threatened and/or cornered
  • When a bear sow is protecting cubs
  • When a bear is surprised by a human

There are other best practices involving being bear aware in Missouri, but the simple common sense facts are the best way to be safe.

If you're hiking in a part of Missouri where you know bears might be present, make noise as you walk. While a bear might get curious if a human is nearby, they'll normally avoid contact providing that you've allowed the animal an escape route.

If you encounter a bear, do not run and never turn your back. Slowly back away and speak in a firm yet calm voice. Sometimes a bear that is frightened will bluff charge, but rarely attack. Only if you run and begin acting like prey will you likely be in trouble. Be especially careful if you see a bear mama with cubs.

It's that time of year when Missouri bears are awake and being alert yourself to their presence could save your life.

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Gallery Credit: Missouri Department of Revenue

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