Bear Prepared

In recent weeks there have been several more sightings of bears in Innsbrook, including most surprisingly a cub. For those unable to attend the timely Missouri Dept. of Conservation presentation on “Bear Aware”, hosted by the Village of Innsbrook on Sept. 29, here are the most important notes we took along with tips acquired from other respected sources. (You may wish to make a copy of this and keep it on your property for family and especially guests. Print it out HERE.)

MDC Photo of American Black Bear

There is less need to be overly alarmed or afraid if you are educated and prepared! American Black Bears are shy and typically non-aggressive unless threatened, cornered, hungry, or with cubs. They usually avoid human contact. They are omnivores constantly searching for food sources and will learn where they are located very quickly and keep returning once they find a source. That is often when they become dangerous.

In 2018 there have been at least two MDC-confirmed sightings in Warren County and six total across the greater St. Louis region. If you see a bear please report it at HERE. Individuals, rural communities and resorts can avoid incidents or threats to property or lives, but must be willing to make changes at the personal and community levels.

Here are some personal safety tips we have gathered from the MDC and other sources:

  • As you hike, don’t just look at the path in front of you, but all around
  • Don’t forget bears, especially cubs, could climb into trees above you as well
  • Don’t wear ear buds while hiking in the woods where you can’t hear nature
  • Be careful around their natural food sources and possible den sights
  • Keep your pets close and on leash
  • Be cautious in the mornings and evenings, or avoid dawn and dusk solo hikes
  • Remember that bears have excellent vision and smell
  • When you see a bear, don’t stare, and avoid direct eye contact
  • Keep standing, don’t crouch, cower, crawl or climb
  • Don’t shout, scream, threaten or move suddenly
  • Never leave a bear without an easy escape route
  • Don’t run away from it, turn your back to it, and don’t follow either!
  • Gather your group together to look bigger
  • Raise hands, talk calmly, and walk away slowly backwards
  • Be extra cautious around sows with cubs
  • Consider having bells, hiking stick, or bear spray with you
  • Use bear spray as the last resort only when close and you are upwind
  • Never ever feed a bear directly or indirectly as a fed bear will become dangerous then a dead bear

Here are best practices for helping rural communities to live safely with bears which we have also collected from the MDC and multiple sources:

  • Communities should educate and prepare property owners, families, guests, visitors to be bear aware
  • Consider handing out informational tags to residents and visitors as other states and resorts do
  • Use trash dumpsters with lids, keep lids closed, place in fenced corrals, or with electric fences
  • Encourage property owners not to store trash outside
  • Leave garage doors closed and other doors secure
  • Be smart about berry bushes, gardens, orchard trees, and bee hives on your property
  • Post reminders to be bear aware on trailheads and at outdoor venues
  • Hike in groups, look ahead, no ear buds, avoid dawn/dusk
  • Be aware where a bear may make its den from October – March
  • Don’t leave pets or pet food outside, even empty food bowls
  • Recommended to take bird feeders down April – November if a bear could reach them
  • Another reason not to feed wildlife like deer
  • Be especially careful around bird houses, eggs, bee hives, and honey
  • Don’t leave coolers, food, and BBQ grills out
  • Remove all artificial food sources and smells from the outside
  • Practice campground rules on bear safety for chalet decks and patios
  • Share bear sightings with your regional MDC office and within the community

Thanks to the Village of Innsbrook and in particular our elected trustee Trish Dunn for organizing the MDC visit. However, we believe that Innsbrook Resort and the Innsbrook Property Owners Association trustees should also be actively involved in educating and preparing our community to live with wildlife like bears, regardless of perceived marketing concerns. After all, promoting wildlife appreciation and bear awareness safety is far better publicity than that from having an avoidable incident that harms a human and/or results in the killing of a bear.

For more information and references on American Black Bears visit our Innsbrook Nature Group website page at Bear Resources.

Innsbrook Nature Fall 2018 News

If you love Innsbrook, Nature, and Missouri outdoors this past weekend, the first of fall, was just splendid. For many IBKers the fall season is their favorite to experience Nature. IBK trails through forests are full of families, pets, individuals, and of course plentiful wildlife viewing opportunities. There’s good reason that scientists have documented a walk in the woods – or “forest bathing” as it now often called – is good for the body, mind, and spirit. We remain ever so thankful to the founders of Innsbrook who had the vision to create a retreat in rural Missouri with an ethos to live in harmony with nature, of which we are protective.

MDC Photo of American Black Bear

In our new Fall 2018 IBK Nature Group (ING) newsletter you will find information about the Sept. 29 Bear Aware program, wildlife sightings, deer populations, nature survey results, noise pollution, oversized UTVs, Charrette Creek monitoring, lake water levels, tick diseases, fall colors, and results from our summer program on living in harmony with nature.  Read it now at https://ibknature.com/newsletters/fall-2018-newsletter/. You can also download it and print to read later or share the newsletter in PDF form HERE or by contacting us at info@ibknature.com.

Help us grow a community that values Nature and still aspires to Live in Harmony with Nature by sharing this post or the link above via email or social media with your IBK friends and neighbors.

Don’t forget the Bear Safety Awareness program presented by a Missouri Dept. of Conservation wildlife educator is this Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at the Innsbrook Village Hall on Highway F. Hope to see you there!

Rich & Kath

 

Innsbrook Nature Meeting Results

Thanks to over fifty Innsbrook property owners and family members who attended our July 28 meeting on The Bear Necessities of Being Bear Aware, What Happened to Living in Harmony with Nature, and our new Charrette Creek Stream Team. Although many IBK’ers were travelling or on vacation that week we still had a good turnout of Nature Group followers, despite Innsbrook Resort not including our announcement in the Village Views Newsletter.

 

We have had several requests for the slides we prepared and presented during our meeting. You can download them as a PDF document Innsbrook Nature Meeting July2018 R1 or request them from us by email to info@ibknature.com.

 

Since our meeting there have been more reports of black bears and bear scat in and around Innsbrook. Our presentation had important safety recommendations from the MDC on what to do and not do when you encounter a bear, as well as what changes that communities as a whole should consider making. We will soon post these separately on a new Bear Aware page at  https://ibknature.com/resources/bear-aware/. We then hope to encourage Innsbrook Village and Innsbrook Resort to support the education and changes needed in our community to avoid incidents that no one wants to see happen. The most important changes have to do with open trash dumpsters that are a definite problem in bear country. For those of you unable to attend our meeting, we still have a few extra “Black Bears in Missouri” brochures from the MDC that have answers to most of the questions we addressed in our presentation.

We expect everyone who attended can recall the lively and heartfelt discussion we had on Living in Harmony with Nature. It felt affirming, but sad, to learn that so many of us share the concern that our community is losing its original ethos of Living in Harmony with Nature. It’s clear from our discussion that there is no one person, organization, business, event, or decision to blame for this trend as we all share a collective responsibility and burden by our choice to be property owners in rural Missouri. Last week we sent out an email to those who volunteered to help out with what we do next leveraging ideas shared during the meeting. Let us know at info@ibknature.com if you did not get this email, or wish to be included in this smaller group discussion. We will be hosting a fall social gathering of all those interested to discuss and plan further.

Thanks also to all those who hiked over to the Charrette Creek at the conclusion of our meeting to see firsthand how a Missouri Stream Team like our new one assesses the quality of a stream. It’s great news that this portion of Charrette Creek is looking good so far this year as evidenced by the macro-invertebrates we collected in our July water sampling. One of the questions asked was whether our new monitoring site can be found on the Missouri Stream Team website.  It can be indeed be seen at this location once our monitoring data is accepted and published by the DNR. As the date gets closer to our fall monitoring we will send out a call for volunteers to join us for 1-2 hours of fun splashing about in the creek to find macro-invertebrates.

In our fall Innsbrook Nature Group newsletter we will post the results of our latest Nature Value survey on what property owners enjoy and value the most from experiencing nature at Innsbrook, along with how well they feel the community as a whole is doing in aspiring to live in harmony with nature. If you would like to take part in this survey send us a note at info@ibknature.com or download it here at Innsbrook Nature Value Survey 2018, print it out, then mail it back to us at the address on the survey.

In closing we feel so fortunate, and yes protective, to have a place like Innsbrook in a Midwest state like Missouri with such an awe-inspiring diversity of landscapes, wildlife, plants, trees, and seasons. We are thankful for all the Innsbrook founders, employees, and property owners who have created a rare community that aspires to live in harmony with nature, as challenging as it may be at times. It is our love of Innsbrook, love of Nature, and love of future generations that continues to motivate us!

Rich & Kath

Bear Safety

Learn how to be bear aware and safe in our area that now has black bears during a community meeting hosted by the Innsbrook Nature Group this Saturday morning, July 28, from 10:30 a.m. – 12 Noon at the Charrette Creek Commons Meeting Room.

Photo of American Black Bear Courtesy MDC

We will spend the first half of our meeting learning about and preparing to live around visiting black bears that have been recently seen in Warren County near Innsbrook. There’s less need to be alarmed or fearful once you learn how to be safe around American Black Bears which inhabit many states and numerous other resort and vacation properties across the USA.

Do you know where Missouri bears originally came from, how big are they, what they eat, where they make their dens, do they really hibernate, what to do and not do if you encounter one, and what practical changes communities often make to avoid incidents?

We’ll answer these questions and more in a presentation using what we have learned from the wildlife experts at the Missouri Dept. of Conservation in a recent Bear Necessities educational class. We will also have a limited number of “Black Bears in Missouri” wildlife guides, published by the MDC, to distribute.

Learn more about our July 28 program at  https://ibknature.com/events/summer-meeting-july-28-2018/ or emailing info@ibknature.com or calling Rich and Kath at 636-745-0121.

 

Innsbrook Nature Meeting July 28

A Program on the Bear Necessities of Living Close to Black Bears, Living in Harmony with Nature at Innsbrook, and Preserving the Water Quality of Innsbrook Streams

The Innsbrook Nature Group invites all property owners, families,  and guests to join us on Saturday morning, July 28 from 10:30 a.m. – 12 Noon at the Charrette Creek Commons Meeting Room.

A Black Bear specimen that we learned from during our MDC Bear Necessities training

We will spend the first part of our community meeting learning about and preparing to live with black bears that have been seen near Innsbrook in Warren County as shared in our recent Nature News post.  Do you know where Missouri bears originally came from, what they eat, where they make their dens, what to do and not do if you encounter one, and what changes communities often make to avoid incidents? We’ll answer these questions and more using what we have learned from the wildlife experts at the Missouri Dept. of Conservation in a recent Bear Necessities educational class.

Next we will follow-up the timely topic of our Summer 2018 Newsletter to discuss what does “living in harmony with nature” (LHN) mean to our community. Should the vision of LHN be important to Innsbrook as we continue to grow and expand? How well are we doing and are there justifiable reasons to be worried that we are losing the LHN ethos? We will ask all to share their experience with LHN including tips, challenges, concerns, and suggestions. We hope to create a set of questions, comments, and recommended LHN guidelines for further discussion and action within the community.

Charrette Creek as it flows through Innsbrook is important to our wildlife and lake water quality

At the close of the meeting we will take a short optional hike over to the Charrette Creek monitoring site for our new Missouri Stream Team. Here we will demonstrate the many elements that make up a healthy stream and the lakes that it feeds. This includes the watershed land use, riparian cover, stream bank habitats, composition of the stream bed bottom, water quality and presence of macro-invertebrates. Read more about our new stream team in the Spring Newsletter.

We hope to see anyone and everyone attend who care about preserving the great many natural assets that the founders of Innsbrook provided for us to enjoy. If you can’t make our meeting, but have questions, comments or suggestions to enter into the discussion, please leave them below in our comment field or email them to info@ibknature.com. You can leave your name or be anonymous as you prefer.

For additional information visit www.ibknature.com for more info or call 636.745.0121. To share this with neighbors and friends send them this link https://ibknature.com/2018/07/17/innsbrook-nature-meeting-july-28/,

Prepare to be Bear Aware

Little did we know the day immediately after releasing our Summer Newsletter, where we referenced our concern about open trash dumpsters in a state with bears, that we would have a bear sighting close-by in Warren County. As many of you may have heard, last week a black bear was reported off of Highway F in Wright City just north of Innsbrook. Read more in this Warren County Record newspaper story or local TV report and video .

American Black Bear photo courtesy MDC

This is not the first report of bears seen in Warren County in recent years. One was spotted near Marthasville in southern Warren County in 2016. We promptly gave him the name of Wandering Warren. You can view an interactive map of bear sightings within in Missouri at this MDC Bear Map.

Black Bears are native to Missouri but were hunted to near-extinction in the state during the late 1800’s. As a protected species they are now making a resurgence in Missouri with an estimated 300-400 in the state, mostly in the Ozarks near the Arkansas border. Bears have a role in a healthy ecosystem and most conservationists agree it is a good thing to have them. As example, they do eat small rodents which can spread tick diseases.

Having bears sharing Nature with humans is little to fear if you are prepared to be bear aware. Bears exist in the wild in many states though out the U.S. where humans have learned to safely live with them. Bear attacks are rare, but can happen, especially if they are threatened or humans are careless with food and trash. However, living with bears does require education, preparation, and some community changes to avoid incidents that can threaten property or lives.

To help our community prepare I will be attending an MDC program on “Bear Necessities for Being Bear Aware” at the Busch Conservation Center in St. Charles County next Tuesday. We have also asked the MDC to provide us with a speaker, or reference materials if they cannot attend, for our Innsbrook Nature meeting on Saturday morning, July 28 that all property owners are welcomed to attend. DYK what bear tracks or scat looks like? We’ll show you.

Until then you can learn to be prepared by visiting this must-read material at MDC Bear Aware and at MDC Hiking in Bear Country.  In these references you will learn that if you encounter a bear while hiking, the most important thing to remember is don’t turn your back and don’t run. Here are more tips directly from the MDC:

  • Never corner a bear – make sure it has an escape route.
  • Back away slowly with your arms raised.
  • Speak in a calm, loud voice.
  • Do not turn your back to the bear.
  • Walk away slowly – DO NOT RUN.

Another good tip is don’t leave any trash or food outside on your property including spilt bird seed or pet feeding dishes.

I imagine that all the fireworks this holiday week will scare off any bear as well as other critters, but it could also make our wildlife neighbors more stressed, unpredictable, and thus dangerous. Should you spot a bear within Innsbrook it is recommended that you call the St. Louis regional office of the MDC at 636-441-4554 and/or Innsbrook Security at 636-745-3000 x9400, then send us a note to info@ibknature.com.

Follow the Innsbrook Nature Group by visiting our website at www.ibknature.com and registering to receive our newsletter in the field at the top right of any page.

Rich & Kath