Missouri officials have signed off on the state’s first black bear season this fall. It will be a limited bear season lasting just 10 days, from October 18 to 27, taking place in select areas.
The first hunt will be exclusively open to Missouri residents. Following the reintroduction of black bear to the state, Missouri is now home to a healthy population of about 800 bears and as many as 1,000, which is expected to double in less than 10 years.
Most of these bears live in the southern half of the state, where three designated hunting zones have been established by the Missouri Department of Conservation, or MDC.
“Bears are becoming more common and widespread across the southern half of Missouri,” said MDC bear biologist Laura Conlee. “The Department has determined that Missouri’s bear population can sustain a limited and highly regulated harvest, in order to provide an opportunity for Missourians to participate in the sustainable harvest of this valuable natural resource, while also allowing for the bear population to continue to grow.
“In the future, as the population continues to grow and upon the establishment of population benchmarks, hunting will serve as an essential component of black bear population management,” she said.
“Being able to add this iconic species to the long list of hunting opportunities for Missourians is a testament to the decades of bear research and management by MDC staff,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “A limited annual hunting season will help manage the growing number of black bears in the state.”
Hunters will be selected at random using a lottery, with permit applications opening in May. The hunters will be selected on July 1. Each zone will have its own harvest quota, and hunters will receive one tag for the duration of the hunt. If any zone reaches its quota before the tenth day of the hunt it will be closed.
Hunters will only be allowed to take lone bears. They are forbidden from taking female bears with cubs and any other bears in the presence of other bears. Hunters will also be limited to firearms and bows.
The MDC will issue up to 400 bear hunting permits and the total quota for all three zones is 40 animals.