Great, So It’s Possible to Run Into a Rabid Bear in Missouri
I had no idea this was possible, but it is. You can hypothetically run into a rabid bear in the Missouri woods. Camping will never be the same again.
The good news? It's highly unlikely you'll ever have to deal with this. While the black bear population in Missouri is exploding, the chance you'll see one in the wild is slim. But, the Missouri Department of Conservation website includes a very interesting fact and I'll quote them exactly with their own words:
Any mammal can be infected with rabies
So you're telling me there's a chance? But, wait, there's more. They say that bats and skunks are the most likely source of rabies, but even those only have around 1% infection rates.
How can I tell if the bear I just met in Missouri has rabies?
Answer? The same way you can tell if any mammal has rabies. The Missouri Department of Conservation says:
Infected animals may be found dead, weak, stumbling, convulsing, or showing unusual behavior, such as aggression or disorientation.
So imagine the movie Cocaine Bear without the cocaine, but still very aggravated and confused acting.
There's some more good news if you're hoping to avoid bear rabies Armageddon. The state of Missouri says most of the black bear population lives south of I-44. Whew. Add "bears with rabies" as another issue you can easily put on the back burner and not really worry about. However, if the Cocaine Bear people are looking to make a sequel, I have an idea.