Bear cub draws crowd near Advance

Tuesday, June 3, 2008
A bear cub was sighted in a tree near Advance, Mo., Monday. (Madeline DeJournett/Daily Statesman)

ADVANCE, Mo. — A major traffic issue was created on Highway 25 Monday afternoon when a young black bear climbed a tree next to the highway about two miles east of Advance on County Road 347.

Four officers from the Missouri Department of Conservation were on hand to make sure that there was no contact between the bear and about 60 curious local residents, whose vehicles lined the side of the highway.

"Folks, if he comes down, run for your cars as fast as you can," advised Agent Mic Plunkett from Wayne County, the first Missouri Conservation officer at the scene. Within the hour, three more agents had pulled in on the county road next to the stranded bear, who sat in a large tree, surveying the crowd below.

"A bear in this region is a novelty, but our advice is to let it go on about its business unless it's causing property damage," said Missouri Conservation officer Ken West, who operates out of Cape Girardeau.

West explained that the bear was probably chased off by his mother, who will keep the cubs about one or two years before she is ready to breed again. At that time, the young male has to go off on his own and search for new territory. The young bears are more active from mid-May through July.

This bear, Officer West said, had chosen a poor place to explore and couldn't handle a busily-traveled highway in Scott and Stoddard County.

Most of the bear sightings handled by the local conservation department are in four counties: Bollinger, Wayne, Madison and Iron. West said that they get about five to six bear calls every day from these counties.

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