CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Missouri Department of Conservation has expanded its black bear trapping program into Southeast Missouri.
The Department began trapping bears in Southwest and South Central Missouri last fall. Department agents are now attempting to do the same in most Southeast Missouri counties.
Despite their efforts, no bears have been trapped in Southeast Missouri … though two bears were captured last week in Oregon County.
Black bears were thought to have been extirpated from Missouri in the 1950s.
But Conservation Outreach and Education Supervisor A-J Hendershott says that bear sighting began to return in the 1980s.
“Since that time, our reports have grown. We see more trail camera pictures. We see more tracks. We see more scat that is brought to is for identification. And so it’s very plain we’re seeing bears in Missouri and so the Department of Conservation need to be aware of what the population really looks like, how they are using the habitat, so we can more effectively manage that population,” Hendershott said.
Hendershott says that most of the Missouri bears migrated from Arkansas. Bears were reintroduced into Arkansas in the 1960s.
Jacob McCleland, KRCU
Photo: A juvenile male, weighing 150 pounds, wakes up in the woods after being trapped and measured by the Missouri Department of Conservation in Oregon County on Tuesday. (MDC photo by Candice Davis)