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Discover Nature: Be Bear Aware

A black bear stands at the edge of a wooded area with green foliage in background.
Black bears are native to Missouri and are making a comeback, thanks to concerted conservation efforts. In the spring, black bears emerge from winter dens and feed heavily on green vegetation to re-start their digestive systems.

Wildflowers and warm weather signify the arrival of spring in Missouri… and one of the state’s largest, heaviest wild mammals enjoys the season as much as we do.

This week on Discover Nature, we recognize May as National Bear Awareness Month.  

Black bears mate now through June, but reproductive development pauses for 6-to-7 months, until bears enter hibernation.  Mother bears birth litters of two to three cubs in January and February, sometimes while the mother still sleeps.  

Black bears are opportunistic omnivores, but as they emerge in spring, they feed heavily on green vegetation to restart their digestive system.  

Bears rarely pose a threat to people until they lose their natural fear of humans.  Feeding bears – either intentionally or unintentionally – can cause them to associate people with food, making them dangerous.  

Learn more about Missouri’s native black bears with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) online Field Guide, and learn how to stay safe in bear country with MDC’s online Be Bear Aware Guide.   

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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