Bear sightings in Newton County

Several calls are being received about bear sightings in Newton County.

Missouri's bear population is about 200 to 300 bears mostly in the south central and eastern region. But neighboring states, like Arkansas and Oklahoma have as many as 3 thousand bears, and around this time younger males go scavenging for a new home.

"We have occasional bear sightings here in Newton County. There are bears out there. I've seen them myself,” says Chris Jennings.

South of Joplin and in the Tipton Ford area, a bear was seen wandering around.

"It started yesterday morning,” says Frank Loncarich.

An issue not too common for this area. 

"Most of Missouri's bear population is in South Central to Eastern Missouri,” says Loncarich.

With this time of year, younger cubs are being sent on their way by their mom.

"These males are looking for a home of their own. They're traveling long distances, showing up in places we don't expect them to show up and places that aren't really great bear habitats, but they're just moving through,” says Loncarich.

"There's not a lot of them out there, but people just need to respect them and leave them alone,” says Chris Jennings.

And if you do see a bear, you can call the Newton County Sheriff's Office or the Department of Conservation, but don't approach the animal.

"The best thing to do is just observe it from a distance, don't approach it by any means. If it starts to approach you make loud noises, walk away, generally make yourself as big as you can,” says Frank Loncarich.

"Unless the bear is doing something we won't interfere with it,” says Chris Jennings.

If you spot a bear in Newton County you can call the Newton County Sheriff's Office at (417) 451-8300 or the Missouri Department of Conservation in Neosho at (417) 451-4158. The Missouri Department of Conservation says the best thing you can do for the bear is to just leave it alone. Don't try to feed it either, because it could get used to humans and being fed and that could cause another set of issues.

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