been known to be active in winter.
Bear Research Timeline
13 bears were trapped and radio collared in southwest and south-central Missouri. These bears will be monitored over winter to learn more about denning habits and the time frame of winter denning in Missouri.
Hair snares at select sites throughout southwest and south-central Missouri will collect data that will help biologists get better estimates of overall population and male/female ratios.
13 bears will be trapped and radio-collared in southeast Missouri and those bears’ denning habits will be monitored over the winter.
The field portion of this project concludes with setting of hair snares in southeast Missouri.
*Much of this trapping will take place on private land, which provides further evidence that Missourians care about conserving forests, fish and wildlife.
History and Heritage
Seeing a bear at any time of the year in present day Missouri is considered a wildlife viewing novelty because bears were once thought to be nonexistent in the state. However, this wasn’t always the case.
When the first settlers came to Missouri, the black bear ranged across much of the state. Proof of this exists in the form of paleontological evidence predating settlement that has been found in some caves and also in countless references made by early settlers.
As Missouri became settled, the state’s black bear population dwindled. Bears were shot for their meat, for the alarm they caused (whether they were harming anything or not) and for the lucrative market for bear grease that existed in the United States in the early 1800s. By the close of the 1800s, unregulated hunting and habitat destruction had diminished Missouri’s bear population to remote parts of the state. By the mid-1900s, it was thought that the only place bears could be seen in Missouri was on the state seal.
But the black bears’ story in Missouri wasn’t finished. From 1958 to the late 1960s, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission trapped 254 black bears in Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada, and relocated them to Arkansas to join the small population still thought to be roaming the state. This population took hold and soon wandering bears from Arkansas began appearing in Missouri. It’s thought that most of the bears seen in Missouri today are the result of Arkansas’ reintroduction program.
Most, but perhaps not all of them.