Going one-on-one in the squared circle with black bears in Missouri is not just ill advised, it’s actually illegal.

The Salem Police Department, in southern Missouri, brought up the statute in a Facebook post last month.

According to a state statute, the offense of bear wrestling is a class A misdemeanor if a person wrestles with a bear, advertises bear wrestling, or collects admission for bear wrestling.

Nate Bowersock, black bear biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation chimes in.

“It’s kind of wild that we have to tell people that, but you know, how things are written in code, any sort of harassment of wildlife, and that includes wrestling them, is definitely not permitted,” said Bowersock. “People should not be doing that whatsoever.”

Bowersock said that Missouri’s black bear population is growing and warns residents that even though they’re an exciting part of the state’s natural history, avoid them at all costs and do not feed them.

“It’s not only a risk to them but it’s, you know, a risk to the animals too,” he said. “They don’t need to be put in those situations and, inevitably, someone making a poor decision, not only could lead to their own injury but could lead to the removal of said animal. Yeah, it seems wild that we have to tell people in this day and age, don’t wrestle bears, but yeah, just to reiterate, don’t wrestle bears, please.”

Most of the state’s bear population is south of Interstate 44, but as their numbers continue to grow, they begin to inhabit new areas of the state.

Copyright 2023, Missourinet.