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Missouri’s first-ever bear hunting season drawing lots of attention as sightings are more common

Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 6:57 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - From October 18-27 Missouri will have its first-ever black bear hunting season.

“There’s never been a regulated bear hunting season in Missouri,” said Missouri Department of Conservation Media Specialist Francis Skalicky. “The last time people were hunting bears in Missouri, the state was still being settled. "

During May when applications were being taken the MDC received 6,335 requests for one of the 400 permits that will be issued for the hunt. Only 40 bears total will be allowed to be harvested, meaning that only one-in-ten hunters will have success (each hunter is limited to one black bear of either sex and only lone black bears can be harvested meaning that you cannot harvest a bear that’s with other bears or a female bear with cubs).

“All of our hunting seasons are set up so it won’t negatively impact the species beyond what it can recover,” Skalicky said. “Missouri’s bear population is growing at about nine percent which is very healthy. That will allow for a limited hunting opportunity.”

The permit application process is now closed and a random drawing to determine who gets the 400 permits will be done by July 1.

The over 6,000 people who applied for a permit had to pay a $10 non-refundable fee. The state took in $63,000 in revenue from those applications and the 400 people who are chosen from the random drawing will then have to pay $25 for a permit.

“The application fee is a standard process that’s in a lot of states that have a limited hunting ability like Bighorn sheep, elk and things like that,” Skalicky explained. “We want to make sure that when you have a limited amount of spots available the spots go to the people who are most dedicated about hunting for that species. The application fee kind of weeds out the people who say, ‘That sounds cool’ but may or may not really care about it that much.”

The southern portion of the state is divided into three management zones and each zone will have a set number of permits and quotas.

“The number of permits are based on the availability of bears,” Skalicky said.

Right now the MDC estimates there are between 600-1,000 black bears in the state and that growing population is showing up more and more in public.

“This is the usual time of year when we do get an increase in bear sightings,” Skalicky said. “One of the reasons is we have young males who are being kicked out of the family unit. What’s happening is that the momma bear has a new set of cubs so the yearling males who have been hanging around are kicked out on their own. And another reason is that all bears are foraging for food.”

In the last several weeks there have been several bear sightings in Mansfield, Rogersville and the Millwood Golf and Racquet Club just south of Springfield.

Millwood owner Dan Schumacher and his friend David Officer have video and photos of a cub estimated to be about 18-months-old traveling throughout the golf community, rambling through fairways and even up on its hind-legs looking through windows of homes in the subdivision.

“He’s just roaming up on doorsteps and back porches looking for birdseed,” Schumacher said. “I’ve seen him multiple times before but he just kind of stayed in the distance. And then all of a sudden he’s gotten pretty brave. He walked right across my parking lot in to where I keep my four (golf)carts out front and just sat down right in front of everybody.”

When asked what he did to get the cub to leave?

“I definitely had a seven-iron in my hand,” he replied with a laugh. “But I never took a swing. Just made a lot of noise.”

Skalicky said the best way to make a bear move on is to take away the reason it’s probably there...food.

“It could be a trash can with an unsecured lid or a pet food dish or bird feeder,” he said. “You want to take those out of the bear’s reach. If that bear consistently stays around your place it does you no good and the bear no good. While it may not harm you it can do a lot of property damage. And as a bear becomes more consumed with finding food from a human source that bear becomes less focused on finding food in the wild where it should be finding food and those kind of bears usually have to be euthanized.”

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