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12 bears killed during Missouri’s inaugural hunting season. ‘Incredibly successful’

·2 min read

In what Missouri wildlife officials have called an “incredibly successful first bear hunting season,” hunters killed 12 bears before it came to an end.

The 12 black bears were harvested between Oct. 18 and Oct. 27, a 10-day season set as the state’s bear range expands, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

“Bear numbers in Missouri are increasing each year by approximately 9% and are expected to double in less than 10 years,” officials said in a news release. “As bear numbers continue to increase, MDC (used) a highly regulated hunting season as an essential part of population management.”

The state limited the harvest quota to 40 bears total — equal to about 5% of the state’s current bear population — divided within three regions in southern Missouri.

Only 400 people were given a permit to hunt for bears during the specified time frame, and they were randomly selected out of more than 6,330 hunters who applied.

“With any new season, it is difficult to predict hunter success, so we took a conservative approach to limiting the number of hunters and length of the hunting season,” said Laura Conlee, state furbearer and black bear biologist. “This was to ensure we didn’t overharvest the bear population in any one zone.”

Bear hunters were only allowed to hunt lone black bears, and they could not harass any bears or take them from their dens. Hunters were not allowed to bait the bears, and they could not use dogs as an assist.

“This was an incredibly successful first bear hunting season for Missouri given that we have a highly regulated season, that bears in the state are widely distributed throughout some pretty rugged wilderness, and that many hunters had never hunted bears before,” Conlee said. “A harvest of 12 bears in our first season is testament to the hunters. Bear hunting is an extremely challenging endeavor, especially under the framework that we established. This was a new experience for many hunters, and they put in the work to be successful and take advantage of this new hunting opportunity.”

Missouri’s conservation department said black bears were “historically abundant” within the state’s forested areas until they were almost eliminated in the late 1800s. Unregulated killing of the bears and logging the Ozark forests led to their near elimination.

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