Why It Matters: Any time a new opportunity for hunters to spend time afield is announced, there is unquestionably a conservation success story that can be shared. For black bear hunters in the Lower Midwest, this is particularly true. Thanks to the great work of state fish and wildlife agencies, many of which are primarily funded by sportsmen and women, and partners within the sporting-conservation community, the fact that these iconic animals exist in numbers that cannot only withstand but benefit from legal, regulated hunting should be celebrated.
- Last week, and for the first time in modern history, hunters in southern Arkansas had an opportunity to pursue black bears as a season was opened in Zones 3 and 4.
- Black bear hunting opportunities continue to expand throughout much of the Midwest as populations of the once nearly extirpated species continue to grow.
- This expansion, which has occurred in conjunction with legal, regulated hunting opportunities in Arkansas for decades, highlights the role of hunting as a sustainable management tool.
We have been writing about black bear hunting rather frequently in CSF’s Lower Midwestern Region, and that is something in which we take a lot of pride as sportsmen and women. Once again, we are talking about a new opportunity for the original conservationists to pursue black bears, this time in portions of southern Arkansas. Last week, from December 10-16, hunters in Bear Zones 3 and 4 experienced their first black bear hunting season in modern history.
Authorized by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the black bear hunting seasons in Zones 3 and 4 permitted licensed hunters to pursue bears with modern firearms, muzzleloaders, or archery equipment. To protect against overharvest, each Zone also had a quota that, if reached, would have triggered the closure of the season. These quotas were set at twenty-five bears for Zone 4 and five bears in Zone 3.
The growth and expansion of black bear populations across the region represent one of the most successful conservation stories in the nation. Once nearly completely extirpated from the region, bears have rebounded tremendously thanks to the valiant work of state fish and wildlife management agencies, our partners in the sporting-conservation community, and sportsmen and women whose contributions through the American System of Conservation Funding support many of these bear restoration efforts. Following the reintroduction of black bear hunting in Missouri in 2021, a season that exists in part thanks to the natural immigration of bears from states like Arkansas and Oklahoma, this expanded season in the Natural State represents the next chapter in the legacy of black bears across the region. A legacy that exists thanks to the conservation ethic of our nation’s sportsmen and women.