Bear cub hit and killed on James River Freeway in Springfield, Mo.

The Springfield Police Department shared a home surveillance video of the cub walking across a...
The Springfield Police Department shared a home surveillance video of the cub walking across a driveway.(Springfield, Mo. Police Department)
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 5:53 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2023 at 6:35 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) A one-year-old bear cub was struck and killed on James River Freeway Thursday night. It happened after several bear sightings in neighborhoods around the area during the day.

Around 11:30 Thursday night, the Springfield Police Department was called out to the freeway near Glenstone Avenue. The eastbound off-ramp was closed for half an hour as the Missouri Department of Conservation removed the cub.

Most of the sightings on Thursday were in-and-around the Quail Creek subdivision in south Springfield which is located within throwing distance of the busy James River Freeway and Republic Road.

With over 1,000 residents the subdivision is not the kind of place you’d expect to see wild bears roaming and the only thing you usually see on its 22 streets is passing cars.

But on Thursday some of those driving their cars saw an interesting site as they passed a home on the main road entering the neighborhood that had a bear cub walking up the driveway.

“We had our Ring camera go off and on the video you can see the bear scoot all the way across our driveway and sneak back behind a bush and into our neighbor’s yard,” said Madison Peterson, the Quail Creek resident who recorded the video. “When I first saw it on my phone I thought it might be one of our neighbor’s dogs that got loose. But then I looked again and realized it was definitely not a dog. It was very shocking!”

And while there’s no way to know if the cub killed on Thursday night was the same yearling in Peterson’s yard, Madison is hoping it wasn’t.

“I am praying it was not our bear because he looked very scared,” she said. “He was definitely looking for family or comfort.”

But according to the Missouri Department of Conservation, it is those family dynamics that play a part in why there are more wandering bears.

“This is indicative of the bear movement we see quite frequently this time of year,” said Missouri Department of Conservation Media Specialist Francis Skalicky. “This is a year-old bear who was kicked out of his family unit by the mother who has a new set of cubs. So these yearlings are on their mission to find their own territory and new set up in life. They do a lot of wandering and what they’re looking for is food.”

Several other videos have surfaced of bear sightings in the Quail Creek area as well and it’s hard to tell if it’s the same bear or different ones.

“We’ve heard reports of at least three bears in the area,” Peterson said. “However there’s no one who can confirm if that’s true. But to hear that there might possibly be more in the area is terrifying.”

“We’re finding out more and more that bears can be found in a variety of places that they’re not normally supposed to be,” Skalicky said. “Regardless of where you live in southern Missouri it’s a good idea for everybody to be ‘Bear Aware.’”

Peterson, who is an Springfield Public School teacher, pointed out that another possible reason for the bear movement could be because of several construction projects in the area. The Quail Creek subdivision is not far away from the Kansas Expressway-Republic Road intersection where a previously wooded area is being turned into an extension of the expressway.

“Unfortunately with all of these new developments forming on Kansas Expressway, out towards Nixa and the Rivercut area, a lot of bears and other wildlife are being forced out of their habitat,” Peterson said. “And we’re seeing them more and more in public areas like our neighborhood.”

“What’s happening is their preferred habitat is occupied so bears are moving out to urban areas and places on the edge of towns,” Skalicky explained. “But when there’s disturbances like traffic or construction, the wildlife will start moving to find another place with less disturbances. And if you have a bear they’re looking for food. So that’s why you need to have trash cans with secured lids. Do not leave pet food out at night. If there’s a bear sighting in your area you might consider taking down your bird feeders. If they can find food they will keep coming back to those areas.”

If you do find a bear in your area Skalicky says to call the conservation department.

And if you assume your neighborhood is immune to encroaching wildlife?

“You don’t realize how close you live to something until it’s in your front yard,” Peterson said with a laugh.

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