Arkansas Expands Bear Hunting Opportunities

The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission approved the addition of two new black bear hunting zones during its May meeting.

Arkansas Expands Bear Hunting Opportunities

With black bear numbers on the rise in Arkansas, hunting opportunities are also increasing.

Arkansas bear hunters will have opportunities in two new zones for the 2022 season, along with expanded archery seasons in existing zones. 

The new areas open to hunting are Bear Zones 3, in the southeast corner of the state, and Bear Zone 4, in the south-central part of the state. Dates for both are Dec. 10-16. Zone 3, which is small, has a conservative quota of five bears and Zone 4 has a quota of 25 bears. Check-in is required, and once the quotas are met the season will end. 

Research into population numbers and expansion of bear hunting seasons in Arkansas has been discussed for years. This is the first time bear hunting has been allowed in these areas since modern-day bear hunting seasons were established decades ago.

AGFC Director Austin Booth said the new season is a testament to the continued efforts to increase opportunities for hunters. He emphasized that it further shows how hunting is a scientifically sound tool for population management of wildlife species.

"The black bears’ decades-long resurgence in Arkansas is proof, not only that Arkansas possesses first-class bear habitat, but that our state treasures this important resource,” Booth said in a press release. “Make no mistake, this conservation milestone was unthinkable 70 years ago, when wild black bears scarcely existed at all in Arkansas. But thanks to Arkansans, we are watching the successes spread across the state. This is a tremendous marker for south Arkansas, Arkansas Game and Fish and sportsmen."

The limited December season will help prevent overharvest and enable the growing bear population to continue to thrive. The opening of archery bear season in Zones 1 and 2 also saw an expansion, with both of those seasons now opening the weekend before the archery deer season opening date (Sept. 17 for the 2022 season).


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