Black Bear Project

(via Flickr/solviturambulando)

Black bears can now be found in southern Missouri, thanks to a reintroduction program more than fifty years ago.

The University of Missouri has worked in conjunction with other researchers to trace the origins of the bears.

Researchers used genetic footprints and hair samples to identify which bears came from reintroduced groups in Arkansas, and which were indigenous. 

Washington University researcher Kaitlyn Faries did research on the bears at MU during initial studies in 2007.

A map of the distribution of black bears in Missouri based on observations from 1989-2010.
(Black Bear Project website)

The current answer to that question is unclear, the Kansas City Star says, but in the last two years, scientists with the Missouri Black Bear Project have tagged 108 bears in Missouri.

Now, scientists have begun the third year of a project to document the increasing number of black bears in the state.

Hundreds of wildlife cameras and hair snare traps are in place around the state, ready for the Missouri Department of Conservation to count the bears and document their movements.