Beetle last seen in state in 1970s; Zoo has monitored for beetle since 2002.
The Saint Louis Zoo's Center for American Burying Beetle Conservation; the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; the Missouri Department of Conservation; and The Nature Conservancy are reintroducing up to 600 Zoo-bred American burying beetles for the first time ever in Missouri -- beginning in June in locations across the 4,040-acre Wah' Kon-Tah Prairie in Southwest Missouri. The American burying beetle was the nation's first insect species ever to be designated as endangered.
The reintroduction site in St. Clair and Cedar counties is jointly owned and managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation and The Nature Conservancy.
For the June reintroduction in Missouri, a special designation was sought from U.S. Fish and Wildlife, which has authority over the nearly 7,000 captive beetles the Zoo has bred since 2005. The waiting period for that designation ended April 23; today the designation is officially approved. It helps provide assurance to nearby private landowners that the presence of this protected species will not affect farming and other activities.
"This designation took some time because we had to weigh the costs and benefits of reintroducing this species as a non-essential experimental population. Getting this designation as a 'nonessential experimental' population does not mean that this is not an important species to conserve, but it does mean that we can offer some flexibility so that reintroduction does not interfere with the activities of nearby landowners," said Scott Hamilton, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biologist based in Columbia, Mo. "The 'nonessential' determination allowed us to reintroduce the beetle."
Beetles slated for release will be paired and marked by notching the elytrathe hard, modified forewings that encase the thin hind wings used in flight. Ultimately, the notch will
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Saint Louis Zoo