Missouri will witness it’s very first black bear hunting season this year starting on Oct. 18 and continuing through Oct. 27. The last time that anyone hunted bears in Missouri, the state was still being settled.
In May, the Missouri Department of Conservation began shuffling through 6,335 permit application requests, and only 400 residents were granted the ability to legally hunt during the first black bear season. Each hunter will be limited to one black bear of either sex, and only bears that are traveling alone can be harvested.
Additionally, only 40 bears are allowed to be harvested this year, giving the hunters who were granted permits a 10% chance of finding success before others do.
According to MDC Media Specialist Francis Shalicky, the special hunting seasons will not cause a major impact to the bear population in the state, as the population is currently sitting at a healthy 9%. From this point forward, limited hunting is expected to keep the Missouri bear population within the same range.
Each applicant paid a $10 non-refundable fee and those chosen must purchase an additional $25 permit before their hunt. The state raked in $63,000 in extra revenue from applications during the process.
The southern region of Missouri has been divided into Black Bear Management Zones (BMZ) and every zone will have its own number of permits according to the availability of bears in the area. In a recent assessment, the MDC estimated that there could be anywhere from 600 to 1,000 black bears presently in our state.
BMZ #1: 200 issued permit quota with a harvest quota of 20 bears.
BMZ #2: 150 issued permit quota with a harvest quota of 15 bears.
BMZ #3: 50 issued permit quota with a harvest quota of 5 bears.
To ensure that the BMZ harvest quota in an area has not yet been met, hunters with an issued permit must call the MDC each day before their hunt. When a BMZ quota has been met, the season is automatically closed in that zone. If harvesting quotas are not met, the black bear season will end at the conclusion of the initial 10-day timeframe.
MDC accepted roughly 10% of landowners that applied for permits to use their land for the hunts. Landowner applicants had to possess at least 20 acres within the proper BMZ and have their property information approved through the MDC’s Landowner Permit Application before they completed a black bear permit application.
Black bear hunting hours begin 30 minutes before sunrise and ends 30 minutes after sunset. Hunting dogs or baiting bears will not be permitted, but hunters may use archery or a firearm for their hunt. The use of an atlatl, a tool used for spear throwing, will also not be permitted.
The MDC will host an online “Black Bear Hunting Basics” program on Sept. 30 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Those interested can register for the free event online or visit MDC’s website for more information on the upcoming black bear hunting season.