Missouri Officials Seek Comments About Proposed Bear Season

The Missouri Department of Conservation is seeking public input on a proposed hunting season for black bears after populations have climbed as high as 840 in the state.

Missouri Officials Seek Comments About Proposed Bear Season

Missouri Department of Conservation is seeking public comments on a proposed hunting season for black bears in Missouri. Hunting would be limited to Missouri residents. (Photo: MDC)

The Missouri Department of Conservation is seeking public input on a proposed hunting season for black bears after populations have climbed as high as 840 in the state.

MDC officials say the proposal is in early stages and it is seeking "initial public input" about the season, which would be limiteed and highly regulated. Hunting would be open only to Missouri residents, too.

If approved by the Missouri Conservation Commission, a season could occur as soon as the fall of 2021. MDC is asking for initial public comments through June 5.

According to MDC, in the last 50 years bear numbers in the Missouri Ozarks have increased significantly. Missouri is home to between 540 – 840 black bears. Bear numbers are currently increasing each year and bear range in the state is expanding.

“With Missouri’s growing black bear population, MDC is proposing the development of a limited and highly regulated bear hunting season,” said MDC Furbearer Biologist Laura Conlee.

“The hunting season would provide Missouri residents with the opportunity to participate in the sustainable harvest of a valuable natural resource," she said. 'The timing and length of the season, restrictive methods, and permit allocation coupled with a harvest quota will initially be limited to ensure a sustainable harvest of our growing black bear population.”

Conlee added that limited black bear hunting will be an essential part of population management in the future as Missouri’s bear numbers continue to grow.

Arkansas, just south of Missouri, has regulated black bear hunting seasons in multiple zones including in its Ozarks region. Bear hunting seasons were opened in Arkansas in 1980. Officials currently are conducting a study about possible seasons in the southwest and south-central part of the state.

Black bear populations are rising throughout the country, with more states increasing season dates and hunting opportunities. 

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