Rural Missouri - September 2011 - (Page 12)

O U T D O O R S by Jason Jenkins jjenkins@ruralmissouri.coop F rom his office in Columbia, Jeff Beringer has a unique window on the Missouri Ozarks. When he fires up his computer and logs on to the Internet, he can sit back, sip his morning cup of coffee and watch as a satellite tracks wild black bears nearly in real time. He watches as they move from hill to holler, through fields and forests, and across streams and even four-lane highways. Beringer is a resource scientist with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the agency’s top furbearer biologist. Last fall, he and a team of state and university scientists embarked on a four-year study to learn more about black bears in the state. As bear sightings and nuisance complaints increase, the researchers hope to answer questions about Missouri’s bruins, including how many call the ShowMe State home, where they live and how quickly they’re reproducing. The black bear is native to Missouri and was common across two-thirds of the state before European settlement. Beringer says during the 19th century, unregulated hunting decimated the population. “We used to have a ton of bears,” he says. “Early settlers used them kind of as a replacement for hogs because they have a lot of fat. They rendered all the photo by Kyle Spradley fat for waterproofing, candles and cooking. Bears As the tranquilizer wears off, an 18-month-old female black bear begins to regain her mobility after being tagged were an extremely valuable commodity.” and measured in Christian County by Missouri researchers who are studying the state’s bear population. At the same time bears were being hunted without constraints, settlers were cutting forests and trying to farm the hardscrabble Ozark soil. “Every time an acorn hit the ground, there was something else there — a goat, cow or sheep — to eat it besides a bear, elk, deer or turkey,” Beringer explains. “The black bear couldn’t compete with that.” Though a few individuals remained, by the turn of the 20th century, black bears essentially had disappeared from Missouri. researchers can learn about the habibe managed by hunting. However, in the late 1950s, Arkansas tats they use, when they use them and Myron Means is a biologist with the Arkansas began a successful program to reinhow far they travel for food. They also Game and Fish Commission and oversees his state’s troduce black bears there. Today, an can locate den sites and learn more bear management program. He says bears there have Watch researchers trap estimated 4,000 bears call the Natural about reproduction. been hunted since 1980, and last year, more than black bears in the Ozarks State home, but not all of them have A second component to the project 450 bears were harvested statewide. He says the in the online edition at stayed put. is hundreds of hair snares that have success of Arkansas’ bear program lies in how his www.ruralmissouri.coop. “Bears don’t recognize state lines,” been set up in the Ozarks. These allow agency has dealt with nuisance complaints. says Justan Blair, an MDC resource assistant. “They the researchers to capture genetic information on “People will tolerate a certain amount of bear are slowly coming north.” He says the current individual bears that can be used to determine a activity,” Means says. “The limiting factor isn’t how project will provide the science necessary to creminimum population estimate. tolerant bears are of us, it’s more about how tolerant ate a management plan for Missouri’s growing bear Beringer says they’ll continue collaring more we are of the bears.” population. bears this fall and collecting hair snare samples Since last fall, more than 40 bears have been capnext year. He hopes to have some definitive answers To learn more about black bears and the study, visit tured and fitted with GPS tracking collars, including about Missouri’s bruins sometime in 2013. Eventuwww.fwrc.msstate.edu/carnivore/mo_bear. Click on the some that provide location information every 10 ally, he says, when the bear population has reached “track” button to see the recorded movements of bears minutes. By monitoring the bears’ movements, the a threshold and is considered sustainable, it would that have been fitted with GPS collars. Bear necessities Researchers learn more about Missouri bruins Outdoor Notes aty Trail State Park has been named “Best Bike Trail” by the readers of AAA Midwest Traveler. According to the magazine, “If there were report cards for bicycle trails, Katy Trail State Park would certainly be earning straight A’s. In nearly every trail characteristic — including length, scenery, access and history — the park impresses its users.” At 240 miles, the trail is the longest developed rail-trail project in the nation. AAA Midwest Traveler readers also named Missouri’s Current River as the “Best Weekend Float,” noting that the river’s cool, gently flowing water and beautiful scenery “combine for a great day K on the river.” Complete results of the readers’ poll can be found in the magazine’s July/August issue. ••••• T he Missouri River 340, the world’s longest nonstop river race, has been rescheduled for Oct. 11-15. The race was originally scheduled for July, but this summer’s flooding required organizers to postpone the 6th annual event. Race director Scott Mansker said near-normal water levels are predicted by fall, allowing for a race at a time of year when conditions should be ideal for paddlers and spectators. He said while original entrants are signing on, there is room for new paddlers. Cost is $180 for solo racers, $140 for all other seats. Visit www.rivermiles.com and click on the “MR340” link for more details. ••••• C elebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on Sept. 24. Established by Congress in 1972, the day is intended to remind the public that fish and wildlife conservation depends on funding and leadership from hunters and anglers. The Wonders of Wildlife museum in Springfield, Mo., serves as home to NHF Day. Learn more at www.nhfday.org. 12 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://www.fwrc.msstate.edu/carnivore/mo_bear http://www.rivermiles.com http://www.nhfday.org http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - September 2011

Rural Missouri - September 2011
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
The story behind the stories
Hemp bales and history
Bear necessities
Outdoors
Out of the Way Eats
Open up and say ‘neigh!’
Back to the one-room school
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
The Missouri artist
Marketplace
Around Missouri
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - September 2011

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