Black bear making the rounds in Jefferson County

DITTMER, Mo. (AP) -- Whether crossing Interstate 44 or spotted near a playground, a black bear has made some high-profile appearances in Jefferson County this week.

Today, it was seen in Festus, said Missouri Department of Conservation spokeswoman Holly Berthold.

Officials believe the bear is between 150 and 200 pounds and is a male, as females tend to bed down more at this time of year, Berthold said.

She said bear sightings are not uncommon in the area where the animal has been seen. But this Missouri black bear has been on the move. On Sunday, it was spotted crossing Interstate 44 near St. Clair. Since then, it was seen at an elementary school playground in Dittmer and then at a spot in Hillsboro.

The bear has not shown signs of aggression. "They are afraid of humans," Berthold said, advising people to make plenty of noise if they spot the bear, which will likely scare it off.

What's the bear looking for?

"Suitable habitat and easy food," Berthold said.

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