1969 Bear Attack in Fort Leonard Wood May Have Triggered Missouri’s Bear Wrestling Statute

(Farmington) Going one-on-one against a black bear is not just ill advised, it’s actually illegal in Missouri.

State law says bear wrestling will get you a Class A misdemeanor charge.

Now besides wrestling a bear, you also break the law even if you advertise bear wrestling, train a bear to wrestle, and/or collect admission for bear wrestling.

Missourinet spoke to Nate Bowersock, Missouri’s black bear biologist with the Department of Conservation.

Bowersock says chances are you would lose to the bear badly.

Back on March 31st, 1969, a man was killed by a brown bear in Missouri.

According to an old story out of the Sarasota Journal, that is the date when 49-year old Russell Ringer was killed in Fort Leonard Wood by his own captive brown bear that he would wrestle in front of spectators for the price of admission.

However, Ringer was crushed by the bear, which apparently had it’s teeth and claws removed for Ringer’s safety or so he thought until he received a literal ‘bear hug’.

Ringer had entered the bear cage on the mid-Missouri military base when the attack happened.

The bear wrestling statute also prohibits surgical alterations to a bear for wrestling, you can not sell a bear for wrestling purposes and you can not collect an admission fee for wrestling a bear.

It took Missouri a while to get this statute on the books.

It didn’t go into effect until 1998.