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MDC wants comments on proposed bear-hunting season

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is seeking initial public input on a proposed limited and highly regulated hunting season for black bears, which would be open only to Missouri residents. 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, over the last 50 years bear numbers in the Missouri Ozarks have increased significantly and today 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. 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.

Learn more about a potential black bear hunting season in Missouri online and submit comments through June 5 at mdc.mo.gov/bears.

Most of Missouri’s black bears are found south of the Missouri River, and primarily south of Interstate 44. With this in mind, MDC proposes to establish three Bear Management Zones (BMZ) in southern Missouri.

MDC is proposing a limited hunting season for black bears in Missouri that would begin each year on the third Monday in October and run for 10 days or until BMZ-specific quotas are reached, whichever comes first. Hunting hours would be a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour hour after sunset. The proposal would  limit black bear hunting to Missouri residents.

Harvest quotas for each of the three BMZs would be determined annually each spring by the Conservation Commission based on recommendations by MDC. Quotas have not yet been established for the future season.

Once the specific harvest quotas are filled for each BMZ, the season for that BMZ would be closed. Hunters would need to call in each morning they intend to hunt to determine if the BMZ-specific quota has been reached. If harvest quotas are not reached, the season would close at the end of the 10 designated hunting days.

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