It’s the time of year when some of our larger woodland critters are waking up and looking for something to eat after a Winter’s nap. Missouri has 300 to 500 black bears, most in southern Missouri but sometimes they’ll wander as far north as the Iowa border. The slowly growing population is leading to a slowly-growing number of complaints about nuisance bears. But a lot of bears get to be nuisance bears because people invite them to be nuisance bears. The Conservation Department’s Dave Hamilton says people invite trouble by feeding bears or leaving food out that attracts them. Simply put – they generally won’t stay where there is no food. If you come face to face with one: make your presence known, back away slowly, give the bear a chance to leave because bears don’t generally like to be around people. Make noise, throw rocks, yell at it, bang pans. One more thing, bears do not like barking dogs.