The Missouri Department of Conservation euthanized a healthy black bear in Christian County this week. Department officials say the 250-pound male bear had become an ongoing nuisance and threat to a homeowner--likely because someone in the area had been feeding it. MDC says this is an example of why people should not feed bears.The homeowner followed the advice of MDC staff and removed any potential food sources, but the bear continued to visit her home and a neighbor’s home in search of food. Monday, the Conservation Department captured the bear, which showed little agitation towards staff. MDC officials say that indicated the bear had lost its fear of humans. MDC staff euthanized the animal using a sedative and lethal injection drugs.
According to the Conservation Department, the bear could not be relocated to a more remote location because once a bear associates people with food it will continue to seek sources of food associated with humans. That often results in conflicts with people.The bear had been ear-tagged in another part of Christian County as a yearling in 2012 and was among several bears that were previously fed by another homeowner, according to MDC.
The Conservation Department strongly encourages people not to feed bears or make food available to them. Feeding bears makes the animals lose their fear of being around people and usually results in the bears becoming nuisance animals. They say, often, a fed bear becomes a dead bear.
MDC offers advice for homeowners:
- Do not feed birds and other wildlife from early spring through late fall, especially in rural areas. This often attracts bears. Bears are much less active during the winter, when supplemental feeding is more important for birds.
- Keep pet food and livestock feed inside secure containers and buildings. The same is true for barbecue grills and other items that smell like food.
- Trash should be kept in secured containers and buildings and put out as close to pick-up time as possible to minimize exposure to hungry bears.
- Campers and floaters should keep campsites clean of food and items that smell like food, pack and keep food in closed containers, place the food containers in secure locations away from the primary campsite, and dispose of garbage immediately.
- Keep bears wild by making encounters with humans a negative experience for the bear. If a bear approaches, scare it away by making loud noises and throwing objects such as rocks at it to help enforce its natural fear of people.
- For problems with a nuisance bear, contact the nearest MDC office or local conservation agent.