When Eric Tiefenauer saw a black bear crossing the highway in the Ozarks, he knew he had to film it to convince his friends it was real.
“I had to get it on video to have proof,” Tiefenauer said Tuesday, one day after recording the footage on U.S. 60 near Winona, Mo. In the video, the black bear lumbers across the highway and retreats up a slope.
Tiefenauer was in a vehicle a few miles from the Peck Ranch Conservation Area when he saw the bear. The Ironton, Mo., man said he occasionally drives near the conservation area for work, but he’s never encountered a bear.
“I only hope it’s not the last time I am able to capture wildlife like that to share,” Tiefenauer said.
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Last year, a Missouri trooper’s dashboard camera captured a black bear dash in front of vehicles on the same highway, north of Willow Springs.
A spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol then advised against swerving when coming upon wildlife on roadways.
“It’s better to hit an animal than to swerve and lose control,” said Lt. Paul Reinsch.
The Missouri Department of Conservation estimated the black bear population at 279 in the state in 2012. The department reports black bears, which are native to Missouri, were nearly wiped out during settlement but are now making a comeback. Their distribution is confined to southern Missouri, in areas of continuous forest like the Mark Twain National Forest.