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Man killed bear near Rogersville

sightings increase in spring

The bear was in an alpaca pen. Conservation experts ask that folks try to prevent an encounter.

June 13, 2013|by Linda Russell, KY3 News | lrussell@ky3.com

ROGERSVILLE, Mo. -- Bear sightings are being reported all over the Ozarks right now, and experts say it's because of their searches for mates and food.   A man near Rogersville came face to face with a bear before he shot and killed it last week on his farm.  Conservation experts have some tips to help you try to avoid such an encounter.

They've been spotted in the woods of Stone County and in the streets of Marshfield.  Black bears are making their presence known in the Ozarks. 

"I think our population is growing, but we really don't have any evidence to support that other than anecdote," said Jeff Beringer, a Missouri Department of Conservation resource scientist.

Beringer is one of the leading scientists working to learn more about bears in Missouri. 

"We don't have any berries that are ripe yet, so they're doing stuff.  They're looking for places to eat, and sometimes you have bears that get into trouble," Beringer said.

Last week, a female bear showed up in Michael Six's alpaca pen. 

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"They just all scattered, and we saw the black bear chasing the alpacas.  By the time I made it out the door, the dogs had come out and got into the bear and they had the bear kind of circling it, and the bear was swatting at the dogs," Six said.

Six says the bear had visited a couple weeks prior, and he'd hoped it wouldn't return. 

"It was on its hind legs and it started shaking its head, and it was frothing at the mouth," said Six. 

He ran outside, pistol in hand. 

"I had to make a decision, and that's when I shot her," he said.

Six says the bear was up on its hind legs when he shot it.  It then retreated to a large tree nearby and climbed about 60 to 70 feet up, where it died.  Logan-Rogersville firefighters retrieved it.

"I was protecting my livestock and my livelihood," said Six. 

Berringer says bears are protected in Missouri, but people have the right to protect themselves and their property.   He asks that people first try to prevent an encounter by not putting out bird feed, dog food or garbage for any length of time, especially this time of year.

"If you have a bear come into your yard, you want to make it a negative experience, so throw stuff at the bear, shoot a gun up in the air," said Beringer.

Beringer says, whatever you do, don't teach it that humans mean food, because a fed bear is a dead bear. 

"They make Missouri, in my opinion, a better state," Beringer said.

Beringer says the killed bear was a 2-year-old female that the Conservation Department had ear-tagged 14 miles away from Six's farm. Experts say it is normal for bears to foam at the mouth during a fight.

Researchers have equipped many bears with collars containing tracking devices.  A Mississippi State University website let's people see where those bears are and track where they have been.  

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