I have only seen one bear in the wild in my life and that was during my family's vacation to Glacier National Park a few years ago. If the Missouri Department of Conservation is correct, we are likely to start seeing more bears in the state and are warning about what that means to their outdoor habits.

Recently, the Missouri Department of Conservation shared this video on their Facebook page advising that bear sightings are on the rise.

They estimate that there are approximately 840 bears in Missouri which is about 839 more than I would have guessed. While most sightings have happened south of I-44, it's possible that a bear could be found in any part of the Missouri backcountry.

You might remember Bruno the Bear who became famous for his trek through Wisconsin and Iowa before being trapped last year in Missouri as reported by USA Today. He gained a massive Facebook following before unfortunately being euthanized in Louisiana this year. The takeaway from Bruno's journey through our area is that you just never know how many bears from Minnesota or Michigan may have expanded their hunting grounds closer to us.

The National Park Service advises for bear safety that you try to always maintain a separation of 100 yards or more when possible. If you encounter one on a trail or in a campground, allow the bear an escape route and slowly back away without running or turning your back on the bear. Most attacks seem to happen when a bear is surprised and/or feels threatened or cornered. That's especially true if it's a bear with young cubs.

It may be time for those exploring the Missouri outdoors to start packing bear spray just in case.

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