SUNRISE BEACH — If you're planning a trip to the Lake of the Ozarks this summer you may have some company.
Last Saturday Kathy Dunn saw a bear at Sunrise Beach. She said that's rare for the area — it was her first sighting in her seven years of living there.
"(We) pulled in our neighborhood and saw bright shining eyes," Dunn said. "We see a lot of deer here, but it didn't look like deer eyes. I pulled in towards, so my headlights shined on it and there was a bear."
Dunn's daughter, Emma, was also in the car and spotted the bear.
"We were driving up, I was in the backseat watching and all we see is big eyes," the sixth-grader said. "And we're like, 'well that's different.' And we were going up and saw a huge body, didn't know what it was until we got closer."
Emma Dunn said this was an isolated incident for the community — although one of her math teachers reported seeing one rubbing up against her fence.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), there are about 800 (600-1000) black bears in the state of Missouri. With the recent bear sighting, the MDC released a statement with tips on how to prevent an increase in bear sightings and bear damage.
For the first time in the state's history, there will be a black bear hunting season that lasts from Oct. 18 to 27. Applications will be coming in during the month of May and a random drawing will happen in July to decide who will get permits to hunt bears in October.
According to the MDC, there are going to be three zones where you will be allowed to hunt, each with a different quota. BMZ 1, 2 and 3 are the different permits. BMZ 1 will have 200 permits where you will be allowed to harvest up to 20 bears. BMZ 2 will have 150 permits where you will be allowed to harvest up to 15 black bears. Finally, BMZ 3 will allow for 50 permits where you can harvest up to 5 bears.
The Dunns don't plan on any black bear hunting this upcoming fall. For now, they will just appreciate nature's beauty if they run into another one in their neighborhood.
MDC advises people need to be careful when it comes to bears. They may look cute on the exterior, but people need to be cautious when dealing with bears. The MDC has more information on bears and bear safety on their website.