Young black bears are cute enough to make people want to watch them, but residents who spot one of these charming animals should stay a football field distance away, says Police Chief Matt Mansell.

“These are wild animals and not for humans to feed or even pet,” he said.

Mansell and other local law enforcement agencies recently received a list of things people who see a bear should and should not do.

The chief reacted by issuing an immediate warning because there have been reports of black bears in and around the city of Pacific.

“Just recently (a bear) took some classes in a Eureka school until conservation officers removed it and took it to a safe location where it was set free again,” he said.

The recommended distance is no less than 75 feet away, which is almost a football field.

Most Missouri bears are shy and will stay away from humans. But if they smell food, feel threatened or cornered, they will attack and cause very serious injury or death, officials said.

Do not take a bear sighting lightly. Go indoors, stay in cars and keep windows up. Bring children and pets indoors. Do not permit dogs to interact with wild bears.

People who see a bear are urged to call the police department, which has a direct line to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Missouri has a good size population of black bears and the number of sightings near populated areas is growing, officials said.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, most of the black bears that cause problems in Missouri are yearling males that have been driven away by their mother, or threatened or attacked by older males.

In their search for food, it is most often these young males that come into contact with humans and cause problems.