Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Black Bears' Return a Sign of Forest Renewal

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Black Bears' Return a Sign of Forest Renewal

Article excerpt

For nearly a century, the only bears known to reside in Missouri were either on the state flag or in captivity. Hunting and habitat loss wiped out most black bears in Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma by the 1920s. Now, thanks to a reintroduction program in Arkansas in the 1950s and 1960s, hundreds of bears now roam southern Missouri, according to a study by University of Missouri, Mississippi State University, and Missouri Department of Conservation biologists.

"The return of black bears to Missouri is a good sign," says Lori Eggert, associate professor of biological sciences at MU. "It means parts of the state's forests are returning to a healthy biological balance after nearly two centuries of intensive logging and exploitation."

Eggert and her colleagues used the genetic fingerprints of bears in Missouri to trace their origin back to Arkansas, home to thousands of bears. Most of these animals appear to be descended from bears originally reintroduced to the region from populations in Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada. …

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