Arkansas Black Bear Population is “Healthy”
Black bear biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission visited the den of a 250-pound black bear named “Amy” at the Ozark National Forest Friday.
Amy wears a tracking collar so the AGFC can keep track of her. She is one of 42 collared bears throughout the state.
The biologists sedated Amy so they could pull her and a single female cub from the small den.
“Most people think that a bear den is a big huge cave, and that’s really not the case,” said biologist Myron Means.
A.J. Riggs climbed head first into the den to help prepare the bears to be removed.
“I was face to face with her, and she was still blinking so it was a little bit off-putting to have her still blinking at you,” said Riggs.
Means said they check each den, count the number of bears and track the bears year after year. He says it’s crucial to monitor the population because bears are hunted and only give birth to an average of two cubs every other year.
“Anytime you harvest game species, it’s very important to stay in really close in tune with what’s happening with their reproductive status,” said Means.
Arkansas black bears were nearly wiped out by hunting and habitat loss in the first half of the 20th century. However, the species is now thriving due to conservation efforts by the AGFC.
“”It’s a success story for wildlife management across the entire nation and world for that matter for bringing back such a large carnivore into the natural state,” said Riggs.