CARTER COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - A four hundred pound male black bear was found dead on the Current River in Carter County, Missouri Sunday afternoon.
Mark Wilcoxon, an agent with the Missouri Department of Conservation, says the large animal was first spotted by people fishing on the side of the river who said it was stuck underwater in a bunch of tree roots.
"I believe it drowned," Wilcoxon said. "We won't know that until we get the results of the necropsy back, but I've seen several animals that have drowned and it showed all the signs. It has blood coming out of it's mouth and it's nose and that is common with a drowning. It had no other visible wounds that we could find. The bear looked healthy. I'm glad there wasn't any foul play, and it wasn't poached or anything like that."
When Wilcoxon and his son, Todd who also works for MDC, arrived on their boat he says the fisherman managed to pull the large bear ashore at the Kansas City Clubhouse campground.
Then Wilcoxon, Todd, a park ranger and one of his volunteers got the bear loaded onto a trailer and sent it to a freezer to be preserved.
The Conservation agent says bears commonly go to rivers for food and to cool off, and says it's important to keep your campsite clean so bears don't visit.
"We're not used to camping with bears like people in Western states are and you can't leave your food out or in your tent," Wilcoxon said. "Keep your food and stuff in the car when you're not with it, and at night when you're asleep. Once they get accustomed to eating human food they lose their fear of humans. They associate humans with food, and that is when they start coming into campsites and cause problems."
The Department of Conservation says it could take weeks until they confirm exactly what killed the bear. For now, it is being sent to a lab in Columbia for some testing.
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways posted on Facebook on Sunday, June 10 that there will be an autopsy to learn the cause of the death.
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways also offered tips on being safe in areas where there are bears.
Some things they suggested include keeping a clean camp, storing food and trash inside a vehicle at night or hanging it from a tree.