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Black Bears Scaring Branson Tourists

The black bear population is growing and shifting in southern Missouri, affecting a major tourist town. Laura Conlee with the Missouri Department of Conservation tells News Talk KZRG what they’re trying to do in Branson.

“The challenge around Branson is really just the tourist nature. So it’s new people always coming in, so when you have bears in some of these areas, just keeping up with public education gets to be challenging.”

The hungry beers are looking for food in new places.

“When you look at where those expansion areas are located, one of them is around the Lake of the Ozarks. One of them is basically in Franklin and Jefferson counties taking you right up towards St. Louis. We had a bear find it’s way into a church in Eureka this year. We had a bear boppin’ around the Baldwin area last year.”

So the conservation department is holding four open houses in Southern Missouri and one in the St. Louis area in July. The goal is to share agency plans to manage black bears—and hear from citizens about their experiences with these hungry creatures.

Conlee says if the black bear population exceeds 500 – then the conservation department would offer a limited hunting season.

Open houses 6 – 8 p.m. with a presentation at 6 p.m. No registration is required.
• July 9 – MDC Springfield Nature Center, 4601 S. Nature Center Way in Springfield
• July 11 — The Landing, 110 Front St. in Van Buren
• July 18 — First Baptist Church, 202 Walnut St. in West Plains
• July 30 – MDC Powder Valley Nature Center, 11715 Cragwold Road in St. Louis


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