Shooting of Black bear in Perryville sparks questions

Police discuss why they shot bear running loose in Perryville, MO
(Source: Mike Mohundro, KFVS)
(Source: Mike Mohundro, KFVS)

PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) - Perryville police tracked down and shot a black bear that was roaming around in the city.

The bear was put down by police after it ran through a backyard with three kids outside, according to the Perry County Sheriff Department.

The bear was spotted crossing several streets, in a Perryville park, and crossing through some neighborhoods.

The first report about the bear was around 9:30 a.m. Sunday. The bear was put down around 11:45 a.m.

Many people witnessed the bear as police and deputies were trying to track it down and contain it. Some people are questioning the officers' decision to shoot and kill the animal.

"I don't see why they have to kill it, I just don't," one Perryville resident said.

Police Chief Direk Hunt says officers were protecting the public and had no other options. He says the tranquilizer guns they have are not strong enough to sedate a bear and the net guns are intended for smaller animals like ducks and would not work on a bear.

The Missouri Department of Conservation backs law enforcement's decision.

"Sometimes the bear is going to be in the driver's seat, like yesterday when he went into town. We don't have a lot of options," Missouri Department of Conservation Regional Supervisor Ken West said.

West also says the dart guns the police department have would likely be ineffective.

"You might dart a bear and it might still run five minutes, ten miles. You just never know. Once you dart it, it's not going to act normally anyway. You have a chance of antagonizing it and actually exacerbating the situation and making it worse," West said.

The Perryville Assistant Police Chief William Jones says the bear was not a cub and was a large bear.West says it is believed to be two years old.

It weighed about 200 to 250 pounds and about five foot tall.

A Perry County deputy says that once the bear crossed through a backyard with kids, it was too much of a risk and had to be put down immediately.

That's when a Perryville police officer shot it followed up by a deputy shooting it.

Many people were attending ballgames in the park at the time the bear was running around.

The deputy says a lot of people witnessed this bear and some were afraid.

One person from Brewer says he saw the bear running and was shocked to see it. At first he thought it was maybe a very large dog but then soon realized it was a bear.

The deputy also says it is believed the bear came in the city from the county just south of Perryville off of Highway 61.

He also said several days ago, one man took a picture of a bear that was near the road in the same area.

Jones says it's nice to see more bears in the county, but not when it comes in the city and could possibly threaten people.

Jones also says the game warden has picked up the bear and will be taking it to Columbia for studying.

Learn more about black bear control and how to prevent damage from bears in Missouri.

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