Arkansas opened black bear hunting season for the first time “in modern history” over the weekend.
On Saturday, Dec. 10, the state’s Game and Fish Commission announced that hunters can legally harvest the animals. However, officials are enforcing strict rules, and the season will only remain open for a few days.
The commission has the state broken into seven hunting zones. And to ensure the population does not suffer, hunting is only permitted in zones three and four. The season is open through Dec. 16 unless quotas are hit earlier.
“We’ve set the quota at 25 bears for zone four and five bears for zone three,” AGFC Large Carnivore Program Coordinator Myron Means told ABC News 7. “Hunters need to call the wildlife hotline (800-440-1477) before their hunt to check the harvest number and make sure the quota hasn’t been reached. I’ll be updating that hotline every day at noon and every evening at 6 p.m. The season will end in the respective zone if the quota is reached or Dec. 16, whichever comes first.”
Each hunter has a personal quota of one bear per season. And they may use muzzleloaders, modern guns, or archery equipment. Once a person has killed a bear, they must immediately go to the AGFC’s mobile app or call the department to report their harvest.
If a hunter cannot immediately report that they’ve killed a bear, they must make a tag that includes the name, date, and bear zone written in ink. People need to officially log their harvest within 12 hours. Once reported, tags are only necessary if the animal leaves a hunter’s possession.
Officials Hope Hunters Will Follows A Few Suggested Guidelines to Ensure Black Bear Hunting Seasons Continue
Hunters will need to submit a premolar. And officials are asking that they also send in a hair sample. AGFC will mail a packet that includes all the instructions on how to complete the steps.
“The premolar submission is required,” Means continued. “But the hair sample is optional. However, getting us a hair sample is very helpful in our research and continued monitoring of the population.”
Means also asks that people don’t shoot female black bears. Because this month has been unseasonably warm, they’ve been out feeding instead of denning.
“It’s legal to shoot one,” he explained. “But those cubs are the future of the population, and they will den with their mother for an additional year.”
The commission created a video to help people identify boars and sows, and they hope that everyone will let all the sows “pass.”
Means also wants hunters to be aware that researchers have equipped numerous bears with satellite-tracking collars. And officials would also like people to skip those animals.
“Again, it’s legal to harvest a collared bear,” he continued. “But we really would prefer people give them a pass. These bears are giving us some very valuable information about the population and hunting season, and this is new territory that we really want to get some good data to help continue these hunts and keep our bear population healthy.”