2019 Project Update

Since the initiation of the Missouri black bear research project in 2010 through 30 June 2019, MDC has marked over 200 black bears and has deployed collars on over 100 bears. As of 30 June, 2019 MDC, was monitoring 34 female bears. Female bears will be monitored in the winter den to assess cub production, cub sex ratios, and cub survival in addition to survival, habitat use, and movements. Males were previously monitored to assess survival, habitat use, movements, and breeding range.

Winter den checks allow MDC to assess the condition of the sow, adjust or change her radio collar if necessary, determine how many cubs or yearlings are with her in the den, and mark any young that can be handled. During the winter of 2018-2019, 26 adult female bears were monitored during the den season. Nearly all dens were located via radio telemetry and were visited between January and March depending on the sow’s reproductive status and age. Fourteen sows were handled in the den, of which 10 had newborn cubs. In total, 20 cubs were pit-tagged. MDC was unable to handle 12 female bears due to den type or because the bear remained active. MDC was able to collect reproductive data on many of those females through observations of yearlings and cubs at several of these dens.

Spring and summer trapping is utilized to capture new bears for the study and to recapture bears that had previously lost their collars or were not handled in the den. Bears are captured in barrel, culvert, or box-style trailer traps. Traps and bait sites are monitored by regional staff from multiple Divisions within the Department. Marked bears that do not need to be handled are released without workup. From 21 May 2019 – 26 June 2019, MDC spent 130 trap nights with traps run in Shannon, Oregon, Howell, Ozark, Douglas, Webster, Wright, Christian, and Taney counties and had 49 capture events. Of these 49 capture events, 18 bears were immobilized, including 6 bears that had previously never been handled. Two new females were collared and several bears that had previously dropped their collars were added back to the study. Collared bears are currently distributed through the majority of bear range.

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