In partnership with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Blood Origins wants to help monitor a new bear hunting season. With the bear season proposed for the Gulf Coastal Plain (Bear Zones 3 & 4) for the fall of 2022-23 (Bear Zones 3 & 4), the most readily available means to monitor the population and assess growth rates would be to equip adult females with collars across the bear range and monitor reproduction efforts and determine female mortality rates. We need to raise $70,000 for this project to collect data for 3 years. Periodic flights once or twice per month will be conducted to determine active collar status or mortality status for each deployed collar. In order to determine population size and growth rates, you must have fecundity information as well as female mortality information throughout the area. Ideally, a sample size of 20-25 collared bears across the Gulf Coastal Plain would be needed for a good sample size.
This project plans to raise $70,000 for 25 collars to support this project for 3 years. We plan to undertake a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign where you can compete against other teams to be the TOP fundraiser. We have two incredible commitments of match: 1) $15,000 from The Wildlife Education Center at Legends Ranch, and 2) an additional $15,000 from the Cabela Family Foundation. These matches are first come first served basis!
Before Arkansas was known as “The Natural State ” it was informally referred to as “The Bear State ” because we had so many black bears. It is believed that there may have been as many as 50,000 bears pre-settlement. But by the 1930s bear populations were reduced so dramatically from habitat loss and overhunting that there were less than 50 black bears in the state. Between 1958 and 1968 approximately 254 bears from Minnesota and Manitoba were released into the Arkansas Highlands which gave way to the most successful reintroduction of a large carnivore in the world.
One aspect of that management is our bear collar monitoring program that concludes with bear den trips to gather data on the reproduction of our bear population. Annually our biologists use telemetry from the bear collars to locate bear dens during the hibernation period.
If you happen to be one of the top two fundraising teams on this project you will have an opportunity to win a trip of a lifetime to go alongside AGFC biologists inside a black bear den to collect vital conservation data. Who doesn’t want a chance to hold a six-week-old bear cub and etch your name as part of the legacy of the bear state? Come on, get involved, and raise some good funding for wildlife conservation in the State of Arkansas.
Nov, 19th, 2022, Update from Myron Means, Statewide Large Carnivore Program Coordinator, AGFC:
“To date, we have deployed 12 GPS collars and tagged 16 different bears on the project. Thus far, we are getting a good distribution across the GCP on the collars. We still have 5 sites where we are attempting to catch females before they start their den cycle, so we could actually get a couple more collared in the next couple weeks. My expectation is that most of the females will be entering their den cycle around the first of December in the Gulf Coast Plains population. We will resume trapping efforts in late February or March when females start to emerge from their dens and show up at feeders.”