SCI Foundation promotes science-based wildlife conservation and research to provide credible information for wildlife policy and management decisions that support sustainable use. Our focus is to fund and direct worldwide programs dedicated to wildlife conservation, bringing science to the table on issues that will most affect the species sought by hunters. Our programs are principally based in North America, Africa and Asia.
Missouri Black Bear Continues to Re-Colonize Their Historical Range
In the early 1900s, black bears were nearly eliminated from Missouri until reintroduction efforts in the 1960s led to population increases across the southern portion of the state. Today, there is an estimated population size between 250 to 300 individual black bears within the known breeding range.
Black bears have been documented throughout the Ozark Highland Plateau and human-bear conflict is an increasing concern for wildlife managers. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Mississippi State University studied the expansion patterns of black bears and the potential impacts expansion has on the number of human-bear conflicts.
The study used historical occurrence data and forest cover to characterize broad patterns of black bear re-colonization. Researchers estimated the bear population and analyzed bear incident reports to understand their distribution, frequency, and type of incident occurrence over time. Statewide public bear occurrence data from 1989 to 2010 was obtained through MDC’s “Report a Bear Sighting system.” It was used to examine current distribution and potential range expansion of bears throughout Missouri.
Data collected during this study suggests the overall population size is likely less than the 500 individuals, the population size considered necessary to implement a harvest season. Final reports show the spatial distribution of black bear occurrences, both adults and dependent young, closely reflect the distribution of forest cover. Bears, likely from Arkansas, have contributed to the distribution of bears throughout Missouri. The current distribution of dependent young suggests reproducing bears primarily occur in the Ozark Highlands, reinforcing the possibility of bears expanding northward from Arkansas. Further observation is needed.
The information gathered to date is basic, but important. Information on statewide bear occurrences and human–bear incident patterns will be useful for establishing future research and management plans in Missouri. As black bears in Missouri continue to re-colonize their historical range, understanding large-scale spatial and temporal changes in their distribution and interactions with humans will help managers better assess research and management objectives.
To make a donation to support SCI Foundation’s efforts in wildlife conservation, contact Kimberly Byers at KByers@safariclub.org or call (520) 620-1220 Ext. 322.
To make a contribution online, visit www.safariclubfoundation.org/give.
Conservation Priorities and Focus
- SCI Foundation promotes science-based wildlife conservation and research to provide credible information for wildlife policy and management decisions that support sustainable use. Our programs are principally based in North America, Africa and Asia.
- The Conservation department is investing in many research projects that investigate the impacts predators have on prey. Learning how bears, wolves, coyotes, mountain lion, lynx, and bobcats influence big-game populations is critical in making contentious management decisions based on science-based research.
- The African Wildlife Consultative Forum (AWCF) is the signature program supported and run by the SCI Foundation. This annual meeting brings together representatives from African governments and PH Associations for a week-long forum to discuss a wide range of wildlife conservation issues. This gathering has proved to be mutually beneficial to the hunting industry, government wildlife agencies, and SCI Foundation.
Accomplishments and Highlights:
- SCI Foundation is the driving force behind international wildlife conservation having cunducted over 60 wildlife conservation projects in more than two-dozen countries.
- SCI Foundation has spent over $60 million to advance conservation, outdoor education and humanitarian services worldwide since 2000.
- SCI Foundation invested over $1 million in lion conservation and population research efforts in the past ten years.
- SCI Foundation contributed over $750,000 in the last two years for management of large mammals in North America.
- SCI Foundation financially supported the $20 million Caribou Strategy to understand the decline in Newfoundland’s woodland caribou.