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Beware the Ballwin bear

By: Jim Erickson

A black bear, similar to the one in this stock image, was spotted in Ballwin. [Photo credit: Shutterstock]

The sighting of a bear in the southern part of Ballwin was the talk of the neighborhood the day after the animal appeared and was captured on video.

“Have you seen the video?” asked Jeanne Butler, a resident of the Castle Pines subdivision near where the bear was spotted. Receiving a “no” response from her visitor, she quickly found the video on her cell phone and played the short segment.

“This sure has been making the rounds here today,” she noted.

The animal was seen and reported to Ballwin police at around 8:35 p.m. on Sunday, June 17 in the area between Oak Run Lane and the Castle Pines subdivision just off New Ballwin Road.

Butler said her concerns about the sighting are limited to people doing things they shouldn’t if the bear makes any encore appearances. Trying to get closer to the animal or offering it something to eat are two examples, she said.

Echoing her comments was Tim Meister, public information officer with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

“Generally speaking, black bears – especially younger ones like we think this one is – don’t pose a threat to people. But it is a wild animal so its behavior is not 100-percent predictable,” Meister said.

“You definitely don’t want to try to feed it or approach it,” he said. “The best thing to do is to make a lot of noise and let the bear know it’s not welcome.”

Running away might attract its attention, but walking away casually should be okay. Just keep an eye on it in the process, Meister said.

The Ballwin bear was last seen lumbering off into the common ground area that separates the two residential areas.

Meister theorized the animal probably is only about a year old and probably has been booted out by mama bear, which now has new offspring to care for. As with other bears facing the same situation, the one in Ballwin likely is looking to establish its own territory and find a mate.

Ryan Esser, whose home on Castle Pines Drive backs up to a densely wooded section of the common ground, said he hopes to spot the bear.

“We had a bobcat through here two or three weeks ago,” Esser noted. “But seeing a bear and maybe getting a picture of it would be cool.”

Butler also mentioned the bobcat’s appearance and said coyotes, foxes and deer also are known to frequent the area.

No, it’s not a bear, but this deer was spotted casually munching on shrubbery at the front door of a home in Ballwin’s Castle Pines subdivision mid-morning on the day after a bear was seen nearby.

Knowing the bear was in the vicinity, she wondered what would happen to the several full trashcans out in front of the nearby neighborhood swimming pool and homes in the area for Monday’s scheduled collection. With their sharp sense of smell, bears are attracted to the containers as a food source. [The swimming pool trashcans were upright and undamaged Monday morning and apparently had escaped the bear’s attention.]

Dave, who preferred not to give his last name, has lived in the Oak Run Lane area for a number of years. He firmly believes he saw a bear about 12 years ago in a wooded area about a mile or so southwest of the recent sighting.

“It was some distance away, but it had a big rear end and sure didn’t look like any large dog as it moved away from me,” he said.

For now, Ballwin police are urging residents in the area to keep their pets inside or on a leash and supervised when they are outside. Keeping trash inside, as opposed to setting it out the night before the pick-up day, also is advised.

Anyone who sees a bear should keep their distance from it and call the police dispatch line at (636) 227-9636.

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