Bear down, Missouri.
The Show-Me State will host its first-ever black bear hunt in a limited season this fall, officials have announced.
On Friday, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) revealed that the Missouri Conservation Commission gave the green light to a black bear hunt from October 18 – 27 this year. The 10-day hunt will be exclusive to residents of Missouri and take place in designated zones in the southern half of the state.
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Missouri is home to about 800 black bears, most of which are found south of the Missouri River, the MDC said. The population’s range is growing each year by about 9%, with bear numbers expected to double in less than a decade.
“A bear-hunting season in our state will provide opportunities for Missourians to participate in the sustainable harvest of this valuable wildlife species,” MDC bear biologist Laura Conlee said in a news release. “As our black bear population continues to grow, a highly regulated hunting season will be an essential part of population management into the future. The timing and length of the season, allowed hunting methods, and a limited permit allocation coupled with a limited harvest quota will ensure a sustainable harvest of our growing bear population.”
During the month of May, hopeful hunters can apply for a bear-hunting permit online, with participants selected by July 1 through a random drawing.
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From there, the MDC will issue permit numbers and harvest quotas for each of the three Bear Management Zones (BMZ) inviting hunters to pursue their game on public or private lands within the BMZ. Hunters will be limited to one bear per permit.
The bear hunt will run for the 10-day stretch in October, or until designated quotas are hit. Once the harvest targets are hit for each zone, the season will close.
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According to the MDC, bear hunters are forbidden from taking female black bears with cubs, or bears known to be in the presence of other bears. Hunters are also banned from using baiting or dogs, too. Both firearms and archery (excluding atlatl) are allowed for the limited October hunt of lone black bears.
Bear numbers in Missouri are connected to a larger population with neighbor states Arkansas and Oklahoma, both of which host established bear-hunting seasons, the MDC said.