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First Endangered Species Reintroduced to Missouri
Midwest Region, June 5, 2012
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American Burying Beetles claim their territory on a quail carcass for the first time in 40 years in Missouri.
American Burying Beetles claim their territory on a quail carcass for the first time in 40 years in Missouri. - Photo Credit: MO Department of Conservation
Workers dig 120 new homes for the experimental population of American Burying Beetles in Missouri.
Workers dig 120 new homes for the experimental population of American Burying Beetles in Missouri. - Photo Credit: MO Department of Conservation

For the first time in 40 years, the American burying beetle is back on Missouri soil. Nobody knows what caused this once-common beetle to decline, but Missouri, along with most of the states in the eastern US, saw its beetles disappear in the late 20th century. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the St. Louis Zoo are teaming up to reintroduce this colorful beetle back into Missouri. The Service established the first-ever non-essential experimental population of insects for this project, which is located in southwest Missouri. The zoo captively raised 240 beetles for the initial release. On June 5th, the Zoo and the Service, along with help from the Missouri Conservation Department, The Nature Conservancy, and Missouri Master Naturalists, reintroduced 120 pairs of beetles into Wah'kon-tah Prairie. Since these are burying beetles, releasing them means digging a hole, inserting two beetles and a dead quail, and then covering it back up. A subsequent check of 1/3 of our buried beetle broods revealed that they had successfully produced 395 offspring, which can be extrapolated to roughly 1,200 new beetles! We are very excited about this initial success, and will continue to monitor and augment the experimental population until a sustainable population is achieved.


Contact Info: Scott Hamilton, 573 234-2132 x 122, scott_hamilton@fws.gov



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