American Burying Beetle Restoration

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Photo of an American burying beetle
The American burying beetle is endangered statewide and nationally. Restoration efforts are under way. This brightly patterned beetle specializes in cleaning carrion from the landscape, burying dead mice, birds, and other creatures.
Dan Kirk, St. Louis Zoo

American burying beetles, the first insect designated as endangered, have returned to Wah’Kon-Tah as part of a well-coordinated partnership that includes the St. Louis Zoo’s Center for American Burying Beetle Conservation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Missouri Department of Conservation and The Nature Conservancy. These endangered beetles will be designated as part of a "nonessential experimental" population by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This designation provides flexibility and assurance to nearby landowners that the presence of this protected species will not affect farming and other land-management activities.

Up to 300 pairs of the zoo-bred beetles were released—for the first time in Missouri—in June 2012. Aside from being a large, beautifully colored species, American burying beetles have amazing habits that include parental care for their young. See the St. Louis Zoo's burying beetle information below to learn more about the return of this fascinating creature to Missouri’s prairie landscape.

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