Program Specific Mammal Research
- Mississippi Black Bear Research and Conservation Program
- Mississippi Bat Conservation
Contact Collections Manager
General Mammal Research Topics
- Distribution of Eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius) and Long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata) in Mississippi
- Distribution of Oldfield mouse (Peromyscus polionotus) and Deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) in Mississippi
- Mammal surveys of Wildlife Management Areas in Mississippi
Mississippi Black Bear Research and Conservation Program
(2002 - 2007)
Black bears were once plentiful throughout Mississippi. The hunting of black bears from horseback in Mississippi gave rise to legends in American folklore and spawned the creation of the world's most popular children's toy, the Teddy Bear. Sadly, overhunting and loss of habitat led to the near extinction of the black bear throughout Mississippi. Currently, the population of black bears in Mississippi is estimated at roughly 60 animals.
The MMNS black bear research and conservation project was started in June of 2002. The project focuses on conducting research to learn more about the endangered black bears that inhabit Mississippi and to educate the citizens of the state about black bears through outreach and education efforts.
Goals and Objectives
- maintain database of black bear sightings throughout the state for species distribution and population estimation
- capture and mark bears throughout the state for biological data collection
- monitor locations of radio-collared bears throughout the state to determine movement patterns and habitat preferences
- conduct den checks to determine reproductive success and to gain data regarding population growth
- conduct statewide population surveys to determine population growth trends over time
- coordinate management of the species among other natural resource management agencies and personnel
- provide written and verbal information to citizens of Mississippi in order to educate about ecology and management of black bears
Articles About Mississippi Black Bears
- Conservation and Management of Black Bears in Mississippi
- MDWFP Wildlife Issues, "Black Bears in Mississippi: Past and Present"
- Mississippi Outdoors, "The Return of Teddy's Bear"
Links of Interest
- Mississippi Bear Education and Restoration Group
- Black Bear Conservation Committee
- North American Bear Foundation
- Cove Bear
- International Bear Association
Mississippi Bat Conservation
(2003 - 2007)
Worldwide there are nearly 1,000 bat species representing almost a quarter of all mammal species. They are the second largest order of mammals in number of species, (second only to rodents) and can occupy virtually every habitat worldwide except in the most extreme desert and polar regions. Forty-five bat species are native to the United States with 15 living in the southeast. Nearly 40% of these species are threatened or endangered, and around the world, many more are declining at alarming rates. Six U.S. species are listed as endangered and 20 are considered species of special concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Out of the 15 bat species found in Mississippi, 2 are endangered and 7 more are species of special concern.
The two primary causes for bat population declines are habitat destruction and poor public image. Most bat species rely heavily on forested habitats to provide both roosting and foraging sites. With the growth of human development and current silvicultural practices, suitable bat habitat is declining. Poor public opinion is a secondary cause for bat population declines. For thousands of years bats have been the subject of wrongful persecution and unnecessary fear from the general public. For many, the idea of a bat conjures up the image of a blind, flying rodent who gets entangled in peoples' hair and is a primary carrier of rabies. These fears and superstitions are bred through misunderstanding and lack of knowledge for a diverse and ecological beneficial group of animals. Education of the public and research regarding bat habitat needs are essential to aid in the conservation of this fascinating group of animals.
The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science contributes to the conservation of bats through both research and education. Bat conservation projects conducted in the last 5 years include:
- Mist Net Surveys
Over 200 mist net surveys have been conducted throughout the state to determine species diversity, relative abundance, and distribution of Mississippi bats.
- Bat House Program
Ten bat houses have been installed throughout the state to provide alternative roosting sites for bats. Signs below the houses describe the ecological benefits that bats provide as an outreach/educational opportunity. Bat house plans and installation instructions have been sent out to over 100 interested parties. Questions are answered and sites are occasionally visited.
- Roost Surveys
Roost surveys have been conducted in select locations in Mississippi in cisterns, culverts, caves, and abandoned buildings to observe bat occupancy.
- Bat Education
Hundreds of presentations have been given to groups of all ages and sizes dispelling some common myths about bats and describing their ecological importance.
Links of Interest
- Bat checklist for Mississippi including conservation status and roosting preferences
- Bats and rabies fact sheet
- Mississippi Bat Working Group fact sheet
- Checklist of ecological benefits that bats provide
- Common misconceptions dispelled