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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Missouri starting to see a resurgence in their Black Bear population which was all but exterminated by 1910..........The Missouri Dept. of Conservation estimates that 225 bruins now roam the 10 south central counties in the "show-Me-State"...............Both descendants of Bears that roamed the State historically as well as transplants from Arkansas now combine to fuel the population increases ..............Bears in Missouri spend nearly all their time in forested areas and use wooded corridors when moving cross-country.............. Adult bears can consume as much as 20,000 calories per day – mostly in the form of acorns – in preparation for winter dormancy............. Females den earlier than males and males emerge from winter dormancy earlier than females

Missouri bears growing in number, now awake from winter slumber

A study estimates there may be more than 200 bears in southern Missouri, and conservation are getting many more hard facts about the state's bear population.   



To date, MDC biologists have

 fitted 61 adult bears with radio

 collars. They have also set 785

 hair snares in 11 counties in the 

southern part of the state. These snares are small wire enclosures that collect small tufts of fur

 from bears crossing the wire to get to the bait in the center. These tufts of fur, and the tiny skin 

follicles attached to them, can reveal valuable genetic information about the bears. Hair 

samples have been collected from 141 bears.

MDC Resource Scientist Jeff Beringer is the project leader of the research study. He said that

 information gathered so far has led to a state-wide population estimate of approximately 225 

black bears, although much work remains to validate this preliminary estimate.

Home ranges of female bears show that most are in four separate reproducing populations 

ranging over 10 counties in south-central Missouri.

DNA evidence suggests the largest of these populations, located in Webster and Douglas

 counties, may be a remnant of Missouri's original black bear population. Those elsewhere in

 the state are presumably descended from bears brought to Arkansas from 1958 through the 

late 1960s as part of a re-introduction program and later dispersed into Missouri.

Beringer believes that the other populations in Missouri developed when female bears brought

 to Arkansas travelled north after being released in an effort to return to their birth areas in the 

upper Midwest.

Research data has also revealed 

valuable information about the 

annual life cycle of a Missouri 

bear. Bears in Missouri spend 

nearly all their time in forested areas and use wooded corridors when moving cross-country.

 Adult bears can consume as much as 20,000 calories per day – mostly in the form of acorns – 

in preparation for winter dormancy. Females den earlier than males and males emerge from 

winter dormancy earlier than females. The exact timing of this emergence depends on weather

 and on how much fat they are able to accumulate before denning.

June is the peak month for breeding. This is also the peak month for dispersal of young male 

bears. Young females tend to remain near or even with their mothers in their home ranges. The

 study is an example of how the Missouri Department of Conservation works with people and 

for people to sustain healthy forests, fish and wildlife.

The study isn't completed yet. Beringer said there's still more to be learned about the black 

bear in this state. "We think we know how many bears we have now," he said. "Our next project 

is to figure out how fast our population is growing. We want to learn female survival rates, how 

old are they when they have their first litter, how many litters do they have in a lifetime, how 

many cubs do they have and what is the survival rate of the cubs."

As a way of reducing the number of bear-human conflicts occurring in Missouri, one of the 

outcomes of Missouri's bear study might be the institution of a limited bear-hunting season. If 

the data supports a hunting opportunity, Beringer said it would be a highly regulated season 

favoring the harvest of males and would take place in the winter when females are in their dens

. However, before recommending a hunting season, Beringer said he needs enough

 information to predict how an annual harvest will affect the overall population.

In the meantime, Missourians should keep in mind that early spring is the time of year when 

bear activity increases in Missouri. This period, which begins in spring and stretches into early

 summer, is when black bears may appear around farms and rural outbuildings in search of 

food. Black bears are inquisitive and intelligent and that's what can get them into trouble.

Like any wild animal, black bears are constantly searching for their next meal. When they are 

successful at finding food, they remember where it came from. Most problems people have with 

bears come from them raiding campgrounds, garbage bins, bird feeders, orchards and


Missourians care about conserving forests, fish and wildlife, but some people's fascination with

 bears over-rides their conservation-oriented instincts. This happens when bears are purposely

 fed by people who think they're helping them survive or are trying to lure them into range for a 

good photo. If a bear visits an area and is rewarded with food, it will very likely return. Though

 they are generally not aggressive, they are powerful and can cause substantial damage to 

buildings, trailers, vehicles, and just about anything else that they view as an obstruction in their 

search for food.

"We have had an increase in bear/human conflicts in recent years," Beringer said. "Most 

conflicts can be prevented if folks do not give bears access to food or garbage."

For more information on black bears in Missouri, including the research project, sightings, and

 preventing and dealing with black bears around potential food sources, visit MDC online at and search "black bear."

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