Missouri Department of Conservation Proposes New Black Bear Hunting Season

(Photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation)

The Missouri Department of Conservation recently proposed new hunting regulations as part of its updated black bear management plan. The announcement is welcome news for Safari Club International Foundation, having funded the state’s initial population estimate thanks to a generous grant from the Hunter Legacy Fund endowment.

This Phase 1 project was done along with our partners at the Mississippi State University starting back in 2010. A total of seven scientific journal publications acknowledge SCIF’s involvement. The Department now estimates 540-840 bears statewide, with the population increasing 9% annually and expanding in range. Thanks to the HLF’s funding we can be extremely confident in this science.

SCI and SCIF submitted a joint comment letter applauding the Department’s work and supporting the new season, but also encouraging the MDC to look at using bait and hounds as appropriate hunting methods and to open up a nonresident application process in the future. Both recommendations can be important tools for more effective harvest and providing additional funds for bear management.

A previous survey of Missouri residents showed that 87% of people sampled supported hunting as the best way to manage bears and create recreational opportunities. The MDC continues to have strong public trust in its wildlife management authority, including from SCI members. The regulations will next be reviewed by the Commission for a first step of approval.

The HLF is a dedicated group of hunters that actually puts their financial resources into meaningful wildlife conservation projects. Their $50,000 grant was ultimately leveraged into a decade long study and a multi-million-dollar effort combined with state and other matching funds.

“This is a perfect example of SCIF’s mission in action from funding on-the-ground research to the successful implementation of a new science-based hunting opportunity and sustainable management tool,” said Joe Goergen, SCIF Conservation Manager.

“We are happy to see black bears once again thriving on the Missouri forest landscape. We look forward to continuing to work with the MDC through this public comment process and thank the Hunter Legacy Fund for making it all happen.”

To learn more, watch these videos from the field:

Missouri Black Bear Project: Temperature Loggers

Missouri Black Bear Project: Technology

Missouri Black Bear Project: P.I.T. Tagging