Beetle reintroduction paying off in southwest Missouri
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A colorful beetle that was once common in southwest Missouri is showing signs of a comeback, thanks to a joint effort by the St. Louis Zoo and conservation organizations.
A recent census found 850 American burying beetles in traps at Wah'Kon-Tah Prairie — an eight-fold increase over 2015.
The beetle disappeared in Missouri in the 1970s and is the first endangered species to be re-introduced in the state. The effort is a collaboration by the zoo, the Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation that began in 2012.
The beetles are bred at the zoo and periodically reintroduced at the prairie site.
Experts say the beetle, with a shiny black body and orange-red markings, helps to remove dead and decaying animals naturally.