Missourians, meet our native neighbor: Ursus americanus. And meet Laura Conlee, Furbearer Biologist and Resource Scientist with the MO Department of Conservation, a true appreciator of bears.
Photos from MDC Black Bear Research Cam - 2017
Black bears (who can be brown, ruddy and even sort of blonde) have always roamed the Show-Me State (OK, maybe only after Mastodons), but by the early 1900s their numbers had dived. Introduction of bears from northern populations through an Arkansas Game & Fish program in the 1950s and '60s reinvigorated the Missouri Ozarks with vital black bear roles in healthy forest ecosystems.
By 2010, it was time to count MO bears. The MDC Bear Project now annually evaluates black bear reproduction and survival. Note: the bears in these field work-up photos are FINE! Laura Conlee and her skilled team are taking great care with the animals they're handling.
This research collaboration - among specialists in wildlife and habitat biology, landowner relations, public education and more - is tracking multiple factors to better understand and support the animals. Bear data is one element of a new MDC Research Website, created to share this agency's expert knowledge with colleagues and with all of us!
Check out MDC's new Bear Story Map to get a really cool feel for these beautiful creatures, and the research our state's conservation science teams are engaged in.
Going out hiking or camping into bear territory? Or if you're concerned about recent bear reports near our metro area borders, become BEAR AWARE with important advice from MDC advocates for healthy populations of humans AND bears!
Music: Hunter's Permit, performed live at KDHX by Mr. Sun
THANKS to Anna Holland, engineering for Earthworms, and to Dan Zarlenga, communications maven for MDC.