Contact: Kent Keene, Lower Midwestern States Coordinator
During the Missouri Conservation Commission’s September 4th meeting in Jefferson City, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) Lower Midwestern States Coordinator Kent Keene provided testimony in support of proposed regulation changes, including provisions that would establish Missouri’s first black bear hunting season. As reported previously, these proposed regulation changes represent a truly exciting opportunity for the Show-Me State’s sportsmen and women.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) most recent surveys, Missouri’s black bear population currently consists of approximately 540-840 animals and continues to grow at an estimated rate of 9% annually. This is consistent with MDC’s 2008 Management Plan for the Black Bear in Missouri, which states that MDC should explore the option of a limited black bear hunting season when the population exceeds 500 animals. Establishing a black bear hunting season will provide Missourians with an opportunity to utilize this newly restored resource while allowing MDC to rely on hunters to sustainably manage black bear populations within biological and social carrying capacities. Though opponents of black bear hunting in Missouri expressed concerns that a hunting season would result in the extirpation of black bear, MDC estimates that, even with a limited hunting season, the Missouri black bear population is expected to continue to grow and expand.
While generally supportive of the proposed regulation changes, CSF did express interest in reassessing some aspects of the plan, including the proposed black bear permit lottery established for landowners, to ensure fair and equal access for all Missourians. However, the current regulations do represent the culmination of successful black bear restoration efforts by the MDC and an amazing opportunity for Missouri’s sportsmen and women.
Following initial approval by the Missouri Conservation Commission, the proposed regulation changes will be published for a public comment period before returning to the Commission for final consideration. Stay tuned to MDC’s website for the upcoming opportunity to provide public comment in support of the historic return of bear hunting to Missouri.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?