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Missouri Announces Historic Black Bear Hunting Season

The Missouri Conservation Commission has announced the season dates and harvest quotas for the state’s first ever regulated black bear hunt. The season will run from October 18-27, 2021 with a harvest quota of 40 bears. Permits are limited to Missouri residents and will be issued by random drawing. The application period is May 1-31 and results will be available by July 1, 2021.

Missouri’s estimated 800 (600-1,000) black bears are found south of the Missouri River, where the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has created three Bear Management Zones (BMZ). Permits will be issued by zone and may be used on public or private property within those zones.

The quota of 40 bears is based on MDC research that shows a nine percent annual population growth rate for Missouri’s bear population. That means the number of bears in Missouri will double in less than 10 years. The quota is a conservative harvest number that will reduce the growth rate to four percent post-harvest. This provides sufficient hunter opportunity and allows for a continued population growth. MDC biologist explain that the population can actually sustain up to a 60-bear quota without negatively impacting the population.

A total of 400 quota permits will be issued. Bear hunting success rates are typically low, especially when hunting without the use of bait or dogs. Other states with bear hunting seasons are below 12 percent in their harvest rates. Using an estimated 10 percent success spread across the three zones allows MDC to issue 10 times the number of permits allocated without allowing over harvest.

Hunters issued quota permits must call MDC each day before they go afield to hunt to determine if the BMZ specific quota has been reached. Hunting in each BMZ will close when a quota is reached or when 10 days are reached. Hunters may use both archery and firearms, but baiting and the use of dogs is prohibited. All edible portions of the bear must be removed by hunters.

The application fee is $10. Hunters who are selected in the drawing will then be eligible to buy a permit at a cost of $25. Hunters must be 11 years of age or older, have completed the hunter education program and be a resident of Missouri. Interested hunters may apply online at mdc.mo.gov/buypermits, through a permit vendor or by calling 800-392-4115. Check on drawing results on July 1 at mdc.mo.gov/buypermits.

The MDC began researching its bear population in 2010, working with the Mississippi State University to establish bear numbers and expansion. SCI Foundation (SCIF) supported this research as well as the Hunter Legacy Fund endowment (HLF), which provided a $50,000 grant. The study’s findings were peer reviewed in 16 scientific journals and is the basis for the Missouri Black Bear Management Plan created in May 2020.

The Hunter Legacy Fund is a group of hunters (and SCI members) dedicated to funding meaningful wildlife conservation projects. Together with matching funds from the state and other contributors, SCIF and the HLF have contributed to a decade long project and a multi-million-dollar effort that has allowed MDC to scientifically manage a self-sustaining population of black bears.

See our previous reports on Missouri black bear:

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