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Three black bears – a mother and two cubs – were spotted in a Ridgedale residential area on Monday evening.

Facebook user Patty Adams Carman posted three photos of the mother bear to the Facebook group “Branson Buzz” on Tuesday. Carman said in her post that she and her husband discovered the bears in their yard near Blue Ridge Drive and Shelton Drive in Ridgedale around 5:30 p.m. on Monday.

After looking at the photos, Francis Skalicky, media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation’s southwest region, said he believes the mother bear is about three to five years old and weighs between 68 and 80 kilograms.

Skalicky said it’s likely the family was just passing through the area, looking for a better, quieter place to retreat to.

Several comments on the Facebook post expressed concern about the mother bear’s weight. Skalicky said the bear may look small, but she is doing well. People should never feed bears near homes. Bears fed in such environments will rely on human food and scraps and may become destructive in their search for them.

Although it’s not really advisable to have bears on residents’ properties, Skalicky said if bears are showing up in more residential areas, it means the bear population is doing well or even increasing.

More: What to do if you encounter a black bear? First of all: never play dead, advises the biologist

If a black bear is spotted in a residential area, Skalicky says it’s perfectly fine to verbally scare the bear away by yelling or clapping. If that doesn’t work, call the Missouri Department of Conservation to safely remove the bear. Reports can be made on the Missouri Department of Conservation website or by calling the Southwest Region Office at 417-895-6880.

Although the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Southwest Region has not received any reports of bears this year, another young black bear was spotted in downtown Ava on Sunday afternoon. The cub, believed to be about a year and a half old, was observed running from the plaza toward the Ava post office.

Greta Cross is the Springfield News-Leader’s trending reporter. She has more than five years of journalism experience covering everything from the history of the Ozarks to the LGBTQIA+ community in Springfield. Follow her on X and Instagram @gretacrossphoto. Story idea? Email her at [email protected].