The cold snap in the spring is producing hungry bears in the fall for Missouri. The record-breaking cold last spring damaged a lot of things people eat or ultimately drink, and forced the replanting of some crops. Fruit crops and the grapes that become wine all suffered. So did the the white oak trees. The Conservation Department says bears love the acorns from white oaks. But the cold snap wiped out almost all of the white oak acorn crop. And the department says red oak and black oak acorns won’t fill the gap.
The department’s Rex Martensen says bears are in their "fall shuffle," a time when they look for fat-making pre-hibernation food. Because they won’t have white oak acorns, they’ll be looking for other nourishment. And that could mean more contact with humans.
The department says Missouri has 150 to 300 black bears, most of them staying south of Interstate 44. But sometimes a few will range north a good distance. The department says people wanting to avoid bears should not leave food outdoors; take down bird feeders the first time there’s evidence of a bear visit; clean off barbecue grills because even after the cooking is done, the remaining crumbs could give off enough of an odor that the sensitive nose of a bear can sniff it out from miles away.
Martensen says the worst thing to do is sympathize with a bear and feed it. He says that can lead to disaster…for the bear and sometimes for humans. One incident in Dent County has led to a killed bear. Martaensen says the bear had gotten into several hives of a honey farmer, who shot it before conservation agents could arrive.