The Missouri Department of Conservation is updating its black bear research webpage with enhanced features and information on Missouri's native black bear population, according to a news release.
The new webpage will offer black bear research project summaries, project updates, new research photos, videos, interactive story maps and more.
One of the new features on the website will be an interactive story map to launch this spring. Story maps combine maps and geography with narrative text, images and multimedia content to better share the story about black bears in Missouri.
"The story map will also show website users interesting black bear movements, such as how far a bear can disperse, and maps of our collared bears," MDC furbearer biologist Laura Conlee said in the news release.
The new story map will replace the old tracking map previously on the website. While the new technology still provides interactive research maps of bear movements in Missouri, it limits individual collared bear locations to protect against illegal poaching.
"MDC conservation agents expressed growing concern over the potential for making it easier for someone interested in illegal wildlife trafficking to find a bear by looking on a website," Conlee said. "Also, as Missouri's black bear population grows and approaches the possibility of a hunting season, it was an ideal time to make changes to the maps while at the same time improving the interactive experience for people to learn more about black bears."
MDC's Conservation Commission has established a benchmark of 500 black bears before MDC initiates a hunting season. Missouri currently has an estimated black bear population of 350.
MDC also will update the bear reports webpage with a map of bear reports throughout the state.