December 18, 2020
The Missouri Conservation Commission has approved the framework that will allow for black bears to be hunted come October 2021. This is a momentous victory for sportsmen and conservation efforts alike. According to a press release: Bears in the state used to be abundant, but during the 1800s, due to unregulated harvest, the animals were almost eradicated. After years of dedicated study and management efforts the population is seeing a yearly 9% growth and is expected to double within the next 10 years.
Now that the framework for the season has been approved the next step comes in the form of quotas. The Missouri Department of Conservation is now tasked with setting permit quotas along with harvest quotas for the season. If quotas are approved, the application process will open this coming May.
The framework lays out the basic rules of the season along with the information needed to prove that hunting will be the best way to sustainably manage these animals. Three Bear Management Zones (BMZs) have been created to help manage the populations, permit and harvest quotas will differ for each.
The season is short — a 10-day season that will start on the third Monday of October every year. What’s more, the season is only open to Missouri residents. The season will close after the days have elapsed or at the time the harvest quota is reached within the specific BMZ. Like most states, sows with cubs cannot be targeted in the season and bears in dens must be left alone.
While the season is short, it is a great step in the right direction and another chance to prove that hunting is one of the best management tools we have in our arsenal.
“A bear-hunting season in our state will provide opportunities for Missourians to participate in the sustainable harvest of this valuable wildlife species,” said MDC Furbearer Biologist Laura Conlee. “As our black bear population continues to grow, a highly regulated hunting season will be an essential part of population management in 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.”
Bears have long caused a lot of uproar within the non-hunting community and this announcement has yet again struck a chord. Anti-hunting and animal-rights organizations are making their opinions clear.
“It’s inconceivable that a governing body with the word ‘conservation’ in it ignored the best available science by voting today to open up trophy hunting on Missouri’s small bear population,” Amanda Good, Missouri state director for the Humane Society of the United States, told KMBC News. “What’s even more disgraceful is the blatant disregard for the many Missouri residents who spoke out against the proposed season, and the shameful catering to the extreme minority who want to exploit our wildlife for a bearskin rug.”
While these organizations are making their opinions clear, I am sure that this season will prove, yet again, that hunters do more to conserve species and game populations than anyone else. This season has science behind it and the conservation of the species in mind. So, if you hunt in Missouri, make sure to look for the application and put in for your tag. Not only are bears an exciting and difficult hunt, but they offer amazing meat for the freezer as well.