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Research: Missouri's black bear population is growing

SBG file photo

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- A Missouri Department of Conservation research project has found that the state's black bear population is growing.

Researcher Laura Conlee tells the Springfield News-Leader that Missouri has seen high survival rates for female bears, which leads to population growth. She says reported bear sightings are also increasing.

Conlee says most black bears are spotted south of Interstate 44, though the population seems to be expanding into the Lake of the Ozarks area near Farmington.

She says the conservation department is still collecting data, but a 2012 estimation of 350 bears in the state seems consistent with the current findings. Conlee says the agency will visit bear dens next year to track how many cubs have survived.

The research project began in 2010, and should be complete within two years.

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