LITTLE ROCK – Anyone can help the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission keep tabs on the state’s bear population, thanks to the social media site iNaturalist. AGFC biologists have set up a special online survey dedicated to learning more about where bears are expanding in the Natural State under the title “Arkansas Bear Survey.”
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 enter sightings as you come across bears in The Natural State.
“Ideally, the best information will be photos that are accurately date stamped and in electronic format where they can be uploaded to the iNaturalist.org website for further review,” said Mark Hooks, regional biologist supervisor for the AGFC at the Monticello Regional Office. “Actual observation information without a picture is also useful, particularly if you can provide the approximate location and date of that observation.”
For more information on how to participate in this survey, contact Hooks at 877-367-3559.