American burying beetle. (Credit: Saint Louis Zoo)
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - The Saint Louis Zoo will reintroduce an endangered species back into the wild next week for the second time in as many years.
Zoo-trained staffers will release 600 American burying beetles on June 4 at the Wah' Kon-Tah Prairie in St. Clair and Cedar counties in Southwest Missouri. This second release of beetles more than doubles the size of the initial 2012 reintroduction (236 beetles).
The American burying beetles will be notched, differentiating these 600 beetles from their offspring, so surveyors will be able to track the population increase after they have been released.
After the release in 2012, surveyors reported offspring from the released beetles, an encouraging sign for Bob Mertz, Saint Louis Zoo Zoological Manager for Invertebrates and director of the American burying beetle center.
"Our contribution to reintroduction efforts by returning the beetle to parts of its former range is the beginning of the recovery of this beautiful beetle," Merz said. "It was really encouraging to find a few offspring from the beetles that were reintroduced last summer during our follow up surveys."
The Zoo's WildCare Institute Center for American Burying Beetle Conservation is managing the release of the beetles in a joint effort with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Nature Conservancy, according to a news release from the Saint Louis Zoo.