By Randy Zellers
Arkansas Game & Fish Commission
Myron Means, large carnivore program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is looking for leads into likely research candidates to wear GPS collars during Arkansas’s inaugural bear season in south Arkansas this year.
As part of the research that goes into monitoring hunting seasons for bear, Means and many of the AGFC’s field staff are hard at work trying to locate female black bears in Bear Zone 4 to outfit them with GPS satellite collars. The collars will help the AGFC watch aspects of the season well beyond the data available from harvested bears.
“We’re looking for any landowners who have female bears that might be showing up at feeders in Gulf Coastal Plain counties,” Means said. “We’re looking for landowners or leasees willing to let us trap and place collars on female bears in Ashley, Bradley, Calhoun, Clark, Cleveland, Columbia, Drew, Nevada, Ouachita and Union counties.”
Means says the bears that are collared will be legal to harvest during the season, as it will help offer input into the study. In fact, all collared bears throughout the state are now legal to harvest so that more accurate representation of harvest effects can be modeled.
“The added work in collaring bears during summer is just part of the tradeoff to make sure we can have a healthy bear population as well as expanded hunting opportunities for Arkansans,” Means said.
The project, which was funded by a crowdsourcing campaign held through Blood Origins with contributions by Howl for Wildlife, the Cabela’s Foundation and Facebook fLegends Ranch, will gather biological and spatial habitat use data on the population as well as impacts of harvest during the next three to four years. While bears have been collared in much of the state during the last two decades, and a previous study used radio collars on bears in south Arkansas when Arkansas’s bear recovery was in its infancy, this is the first bear project in south Arkansas using these modern GPS transmitter-enabled collars.
“We’re hoping to outfit 15 female bears with the collars provided through the crowdsourcing effort by the end of summer,” Means said. “So we need as much help as possible finding some females who are active and showing up on a regular basis near their deer camp or property.”
Contact Means at firstname.lastname@example.org with information and images of bears to help AGFC with this groundbreaking conservation effort.