Bears in the Ozarks
For instance, in June of 1870, two black bears were killed in the Springfield vicinity within a week. The first one, as reported by the Springfield Missouri Weekly Patriot, was killed by a farmer living about nine miles east of town when the bear "strayed from his native forests too close to the habituations of the white man" and scattered some rails the farmer had used to enclose a spring. The farmer put his hounds on the trail of the bruin, they treed it, and he filled it full of lead. The next week, the same newspaper reported that another black bear had been killed by a man living about seven miles south of Springfield. The newspaperman remarked that he had thought, after chronicling the first bear's demise the previous week, he would probably never have occasion to report a similar story again. It's clear from his statement that the sighting and killing of two bears in such a short span of time and in the same general vicinity of the Ozarks was a rare instance in 1870, but the fact that two bears were, in fact, killed within a week not more than fifteen miles apart is also an indication that they were probably more common in 1870 than they are now.