Metro-East News

Black bear seen wandering around neighborhood in region

Ashlee Mattingly, who lives in Festus, Missouri, took several photos of the black bear in her neighborhood.
Ashlee Mattingly, who lives in Festus, Missouri, took several photos of the black bear in her neighborhood.

There is a bear wondering around Festus, Missouri, but officials say it isn't anything to worry about.

It's one of about 350 black bears in the "Show-Me" state, says Lucas Bond of the Missouri Department of Conservation. The bear in Festus was exhibiting normal behavior for this time of year, he said, of seeking out food, mates and new territory.

Bears can swim, Bond said. Festus is just west of the Mississippi River, across from Maeystown, Illinois.

"If you see a bear, back away, give it its space," Bond said, adding that the Missouri Department of Conservation urges campers and others to be "Bear Aware" and keep food packed away.

Photos on Facebook showed the bear wandering an area with trees and a child's swing. It appeared brown.

"Not all black bears are black. Some can be cinnamon," Bond said.

There are no significant numbers of bears in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. In the 1960s a few black bears were released in Williamson County, but none survived, the IDNR said.

The bear in Missouri was spotted in residential yards and going through trash cans, KMOV reported.

Mary Cooley: 618-239-2535, @MaryCooleyBND
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