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The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is proposing to expand bear-hunting opportunities in The Natural State, and the public can help biologists fill some critical data on the species, thanks to the social media site iNaturalist.
Anyone who sees black bears while enjoying the outdoors in Arkansas is encouraged to log the sighting to help biologists get some baseline information on populations and general locations to follow up with during future scientific research on the species as hunting seasons move forward.
Myron Means, AGFC large carnivore program coordinator, says game cameras and mobile technology have really made it possible for the public to take an active role in helping manage certain wildlife species.
“We receive images and reports of bears in feeders all the time, and we know the bears are expanding into new areas,” Means said. “This survey will help us gather location information as well as basic biological information such as sex, recruitment and relative age class to supplement our other methods of tracking the population.”
Participating in the survey requires a free account with iNaturalist.org, which takes less than 5 minutes to set up. Once you have established an account, you may join the “Arkansas Bear Survey” project to enter sightings as you come across bears in The Natural State.
The best information will be photos with date and time stamps, so biologists can compare the animals being submitted. However, observation information without a picture can be entered to supplement the data, particularly if the sighting is recorded with an exact time and approximate location.