JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) - A black bear was seen emerging from a wooded area along Romaine Creek Road near Highway 141, south of Fenton, Monday evening. Jim Ball stopped and took a couple of photos.
"Just sort of observing the situation like he wanted to cross," he said.
Ball said the bear may have been startled by the cars that stopped and the people who were taking photos.
"He turned around and just looked back like he was looking at the cars and then gradually walked into the woods," said Ball.
This is the latest in a string of bear sightings in the region recently. There have been reported sightings of black bears in House Springs, Cedar Hill, Robertsville, Sullivan and south of Bourbon. According to Dan Zarlenga, with the Missouri Department of Conservation, spring and early summer is the period when bears are on the move and bear sightings are more frequent.
"Just emerged from hibernation for the winter and so they're hungry and they're looking for food. And that's a really big motivator right now," he said.
There are an estimated 800 or more black bears in the state. According to Zarlenga, most live in the southern part of the state but there's a slow migration northward.
"There will likely be more and more bear sightings as time goes by," said Zarlenga.
Some think the bear seen south of Fenton on Monday may have taken up residence in the area.
"So far I've seen him 3 or 4 times," said Jeff Stoppelmann.
Zarlenga said no one should ever feed a bear because it will come to expect food and could get aggressive. To avoid attracting a bear, it's recommended you don't leave out pet food and any trash bags that are set out should be in a tight container. Also, it's recommended any outdoor grill or smoker should be cleaned so the smell won't attract a bear.
Ball said he and his neighbors will be keeping a closer eye on children and pets after seeing a bear in the area.
"My wife has already said she is not going in the backyard till we get a large fence," said Ball.
Because the bear population has grown as large as it is, Missouri will host a bear hunting season October 18-27.