Missouri Approves Black Bear Hunting for First Time in 90 Years

by Jennifer Shea

Starting in October 2021, Missouri will allow black bear hunting for the first time in almost 90 years, since the state’s conservation department launched.

Missouri’s black bear population has been rising by 9% a year. And it’s projected to double in less than 10 years, Fox News reports. 

Black Bear Hunting Season Set for October

The Missouri Conservation Commission has given the go-ahead to the Missouri Department of Conservation to start planning a black bear hunting season. The season will begin next October.

“A bear-hunting season in our state will provide opportunities for Missourians to participate in the sustainable harvest of this valuable wildlife species,” MDC biologist Laura Conlee said in a statement. “As our black bear population continues to grow, a highly regulated hunting season will be an essential part of population management in the future.” 

She added, “The timing and length of the season, allowed hunting methods, and a limited permit allocation coupled with a limited harvest quota will ensure a sustainable harvest of our growing bear population.”

Black bear hunting is for Missouri residents only. And it will happen only in southern Missouri.

Hunters Face Strict Limitations

Most of the state’s 540 to 840 black bears congregate south of the Missouri River. So the MDC has drawn three Bear Management Zones in that area. Officials will issue a limited number of hunting permits for each BMZ. And hunters may pursue bears only within the BMZ for which they have a permit.

Hunters can take one bear per permit. And they are required to call MDC each day before they hunt to find out if their BMZ has reached its harvest quota.

Also, female bears with cubs are off-limits, as are bears in dens. Hunters can only go after lone bears.

Hunters further have to wear hunter orange when they go out. They also have to make every reasonable effort to retrieve the carcass of the bear they shoot.

Those restrictions weren’t enough for the Humane Society. Its Missouri director told the Associated Press that the MDC ignored the science on what she said was a small black bear population.

“What’s even more disgraceful is the blatant disregard for the many Missouri residents who spoke out against the proposed season,” the Humane Society’s Amanda Good said. “And the shameful catering to the extreme minority who want to exploit our wildlife for a bearskin rug.”

What’s the next step in opening up a hunting season? The MDC will present recommendations to the Conservation Commission on a permit quota and a harvest quota. Once they have set those quotas, Missouri residents may apply for permits as soon as May of 2021.