FESTUS (KMOV.com) –
Jefferson County residents were on high alert Thursday evening after a bear was spotted in several yards in the Georgetown Neighborhood near Festus. 11-year old Annalise Mattingly was the first to spot the bear in a neighbor’s trash can.
“I see this little black, brown figure and it looks kind of like a dog at first and then I’m like oh my gosh it’s a bear,” said Annalise.
The bear was seen rummaging through one neighbor’s trash can.
“It was going through their trash and it was just ripping it and running it up and down, then he tried to go out into the road and a car came scared him and he took off,” said Annalise’s mother, Ashlee Mattingly.
The Missouri Department of Conservation believes it’s a 3-year old black bear that’s on its own for the first time. It’s believed to be the same bear that was seen a few days earlier in the Terre Du Lac area of St. Francois County. There are no plans to trap it and relocate it.
“We typically don’t actually respond, we let nature take its course unless the bear’s causing some type of problem,” said Conservation Department spokesman Dan Zarlenga.
He strongly recommends that people don’t try to feed bears.
“It literally becomes like a narcotic. Once they get that first fix of food from a human and the associate it with a particular location they’re going to come back for more and more. If they don’t get that food then they might become aggressive,” said Zarlenga.
The Mattingly’s plan to follow the Conservation Department’s advice for reducing any enticements for the bear to come back, including bringing in their pets’ food bowls.
“We feed birds like crazy around here. We’re going to bring those in for awhile. Also strap your trash cans down, padlock them down or put them in the garage,” said Ashlee Mattingly.
Zarlenga said black bears are actually brown when they’re young and change over to black when they become an adult. He believes the bear could be looking for a mate.