The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) gave notice that they want public input on a proposed limited and highly regulated hunting season for black bears, which would be open only to Missouri residents. According to a press release from the MDC comments will be accepted through June 5.

If by chance this is approved by the Missouri Conservation Commission, Fall of 2021 would be the earliest that a season would occur.

The MDC has been keeping track of the numbers of the black bear population in the Missouri Ozarks over the past 50 years and those numbers have increased. Today's numbers range from 540 – 840 black bears. The Missouri Department of Conservation are expecting those numbers to grow each year and for the black bear population to expand with it.

According to MDC Furbearer Biologist Laura Conlee:

“With Missouri’s growing black bear population, MDC is proposing the development of a limited and highly regulated bear hunting season. The hunting season would provide Missouri residents with the opportunity to participate in the sustainable harvest of a valuable natural resource."

In the press release from MDC, 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.

Most of Missouri’s estimated 540-840 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.

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