November 2, 2020

CSF Weighs-in on Missouri’s Proposed Black Bear Hunting Opportunity

Article Contact: Kent Keene,

Contact: Kent Keene, Lower Midwestern States Coordinator

On October 28, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a formal letter of support for regulation changes proposed by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to create a limited black bear hunting opportunity for Missouri residents. As previously reported on June 8 and September 8, CSF supports the regulations proposed by MDC as an opportunity for Missouri’s hunters to pursue this iconic species while supporting MDC’s management efforts.

As a native species, black bears were once found throughout Missouri but were extirpated in the early 1900’s, due largely to unregulated market hunting and habitat loss. Fortunately, the species’ success in neighboring states like Arkansas and Oklahoma, combined with MDC’s restoration efforts, have led to the successful reestablishment of the species to the Show-Me State. Current estimates suggest that between 550-850 bears roam the state, largely dispersed throughout the Ozarks region. With an estimated population growth rate of 9% annually, MDC’s biologists believe that the state’s population has met the threshold for which a limited hunting opportunity can be supported to benefit management efforts.

CSF continues to support state fish and wildlife management agencies as the entity best equipped to make science-based management decisions. CSF also pointed out that, “…a regulated black bear hunt will allow MDC to rely on the Show-Me State’s hunters to help maintain the bear population within biological and social carrying capacities while ensuring the longevity of the species.” While generally supportive of the black bear hunting regulations, CSF continues to encourage MDC and the Missouri Conservation Commission to explore all permit distribution options to ensure that all interested Missouri hunters have a fair opportunity to pursue this species.

Those interested in learning more about Missouri’s black bear population and MDC’s management plan can do so by visiting the Missouri Department of Conservation website. While there, readers can also check out the proposed black bear hunting regulations and provide their own comments. The public comment period for these proposed regulation changes ends on November 14, 2020.

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?

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