MISSOURI (KFVS) - Whether it feels like it or not, springtime is just around the corner. And because of that, the Missouri Department of Conservation is tracking Black Bears across the state.
The department is tracking these bears with collars to keep track of numbers. You can even go online and take a look at where they've been.
A map on their website shows where some of these bears have been, including the western counties.
The department conducts den checks to make sure the bears are healthy and to tag any newborns.
The department estimates that between 300 and 350 bears are currently in the state. They've tagged 85 and follow 35 of them right now.
While they might seem okay to approach, department officials said it is important to help keep them wild by not feeding them or interacting with them at all.
Candice Davis with the Department of Conservation said it is important to remember that a bear sitting is a possibility.
"And so we want people to know that yeah, bears are coming back and you might see one in the wild while you're enjoying those wild spaces as well," Davis said.
Officials with the department also said that if you do see a bear in the wild to act big and be loud. While there is no reason to fear bears being in the area they can still be dangerous.
The best practice to keep both you and others safe is to not interact with them, department officials said.