As black bear population reaches about 300, researchers shift focus

May 26, 2014

Credit Jason Empey / FLICKR

The Missouri Department of Conservation now estimates that the Show Me State’s black bear population is about 300.

 Black bears are scattered in four pockets across the southern Missouri Ozarks. Now that scientists know the number of bears and where to find them, the MDC can focus on bear demographics. MDC resource scientist Jeff Beringer says they want to know the ratio of females to males, when females have their young, and how long a female black bear lives: "Does a female bring off 10 litters in her life, or does she bring off three or four? What's the fate of those litters? do these cubs live to be two or three or four or five, and then have reproduction, or do we find that they are dying?" Beringer says Missouri’s black bears have a low population density. Black bears are still colonizing Missouri, so they have wide ranges of movement. Beringer knows of one black bear, for instance, that travelled 500 miles.