Black bear killed near Marquand

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

MARQUAND, Mo. -- A 400-pound black bear was found dead Monday morning near Marquand, a day after it was shot three times by a resident who said he was afraid the bear was going to attack his dog.

Though it is illegal to kill black bears in Missouri, the man who shot the bear will not be charged because he was protecting his property, said Ken West, regional supervisor with the Missouri Department of Conservation in Cape Girardeau. The name of the man who killed the bear was unavailable Monday night.

The bear first showed up at the man's house, 3 miles south of Marquand near the Bollinger-Madison county line, on Saturday night, West said. The man ran the bear off Saturday night after it ripped boards off his shed to get to some animal feed.

Uncharacteristically, the bear returned Sunday night.

"Normally, once you run a bear off, he doesn't come back," West said. "But he came back. The guy tried to run it off again, but the bear apparently stood his ground."

The man said the bear stood up on its hind legs as the man's dog advanced. Standing up, the bear was 6 feet tall.

"He was afraid the bear was going to tear up his dog," West said. "So apparently he shot the bear three times."

The man used a .22-caliber rifle. The wounded bear ran into the woods, West said, and the man called the Bollinger County Sheriff's Department, which contacted the Department of Conservation.

The bear couldn't be located that night. The next morning, the man called the agency and said he'd found the bear dead 150 yards from the shed.

Monday morning, conservation agents retrieved the bear, a male, and stored the carcass in the walk-in freezer of a Fredericktown, Mo., taxidermist.

On Wednesday a member of the department's wildlife staff will transport the bear to Columbia, Mo., to be analyzed. The department will study stomach contents to see what it had eaten recently, take DNA samples and determine its age.

West said it's unusual for a bear sighting to end in a killing.

"He had damage to his property," he said. "We're confident this wasn't a case where the bear was just ambling by and he shot it."

West said agents had received reports of two black bears in that area during the past two or three weeks.

The black bear is the smallest bear in North America and the only one native to Missouri. Adult males generally weigh 200 to 600 pounds, and adult females weigh 100 to 300 pounds. Although most bears in Missouri are black, color varies from brown to blond.

West said multiple sightings of two bears had been made in Madison and Bollinger counties in the last few weeks. While sightings in Cape Girardeau County aren't impossible, West said, bears don't usually go into areas with high concentrations of people or traffic.

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