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MDC announces first black bear hunting season for southern Missouri this fall

Starting October 18 through 27, hunters with proper permits can hunt black bears in one of three established Bear Management Zones
Credit: Missouri Department of Conservation

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Hunting for black bear is now permitted for Missouri residents, and Missouri Department of Conservation has established the state’s first season: this fall, Oct. 18-27.

The black bear is one of the largest and heaviest wild mammals in Missouri, with some reaching up to 500 pounds.

The Missouri Conservation Commission gave final approval of MDC’s season framework, permit and harvest quotas, and other regulations at its open meeting Friday. Regulations limit black bear hunting to Missouri residents and restrict it to three designated regions in southern Missouri.

For Missouri residents interested in getting a permit, you can apply during the month of May. Click here for the application.

Permit selection will be made through a random drawing of applicants on July 1. You can check on the status of your application on the same site you applied. Selected hunters must be 11 years of age or older and have completed hunter education (or be exempt) by the time of the hunt to purchase a permit.

“Being able to add this iconic species to the long list of hunting opportunities for Missourians is a testament to the decades of bear research and management by MDC staff,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “A limited annual hunting season will help manage the growing number of black bears in the state.”

Missouri’s estimated 800 black bears are found south of the Missouri River and primarily south of Interstate 44, according to the MDC. The department has mapped out three Bear Management Zones in southern Missouri and will issue permit numbers and harvest quotas for each BMZ. Each permit will be for a specific BMZ and may be used for public or private property within the zone.

Permit and harvest quotas for the upcoming Oct. 18-27 bear season:

  • BMZ 1: Permit quota 200, harvest quota 20 bears
  • BMZ 2: 150 permits, 15 bears
  • BMZ 3: 50 permits, 5 bears

The limited season will begin each year on the third Monday in October and run for 10 days or until BMZ-specific quotas are reached.

MDC proposed a highly regulated black bear hunting season after several years of public comment.

“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 Bear Biologist Laura Conlee. “As our black bear population continues to grow, a highly regulated hunting season will be an essential part of population management into the future.”

Hunters value black bears for their meat, pelts, claws and as a source of wild lard.

More on regulations, from MDC:

Hunting hours will be a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. Hunters will be allowed to use both archery and firearms equipment with allowable methods being the same as those for deer and elk, except the use of an atlatl. Baiting and the use of dogs will not be allowed.

The harvest limit will be one bear per permit. Only lone black bears may be taken. Hunters may not take bears that are known to be in the presence of others bears, including female black bears with cubs. Bears may not be disturbed, pushed, harassed or taken from a den. Bear hunters must wear hunter orange, make reasonable efforts to retrieve shot bears, and may not leave or abandon commonly edible portions.

All harvested bears must be tele-checked by 10 p.m. on the day of harvest. Harvested bears must remain intact as a field-dressed carcass or quartered until the bear has been tele-checked.

MDC will also require the submission of a tooth from each harvested bear within 10 days of harvest. This will help MDC staff with black bear research and management.

Hunters who are issued permits must call MDC each day before they intend to hunt to determine if the BMZ-specific quota has been reached. If harvest quotas are not reached, the season will close at the end of the 10 designated hunting days.

For more on the permit process and black bears in Missouri, visit this page containing MDC’s information.

Learn more about bear hunting in Missouri at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/bear.