The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) announces the state’s first black-bear hunting season is slated for this coming fall, Oct. 18–27.
The Missouri Conservation Commission gave final approval of MDC’s season framework, permit and harvest quotas, and other related regulations for hunting black bears in Missouri at its March 26 open meeting. The approved regulations limit bear hunting to Missouri residents and restrict bear hunting to designated areas of southern Missouri. Missouri residents will be able to apply during May for the Oct. 18-27 hunt with permit selection by July 1 through a random drawing of applicants.
Permit and harvest quotas for the upcoming Oct. 18-27 bear season will be:
BMZ 1: Permit quota of 200 issued with a harvest quota of 20 bears.
BMZ 2: Permit quota of 150 issued with a harvest quota of 15 bears.
BMZ 3: Permit quota of 50 issued with a harvest quota of 5 bears.
The limited hunting season will be restricted to Missouri residents and will begin each year on the third Monday in October and run for 10 days or until BMZ-specific quotas are reached. Once the specific harvest quotas are filled for each BMZ, the season for that BMZ will be closed.
“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. The timing and length of the season, allowed hunting methods, and a limited permit allocation coupled with a limited harvest quota will ensure a sustainable harvest of our growing bear population.”
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 telechecked 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 telechecked.
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.
MDC will offer an online bear-hunting permit-application period May 1-31 with a fee of $10 per applicant. Individuals must be Missouri residents and will be allowed to apply to hunt in one of the three designated BMZs.
Apply May 1 – 31 online at mdc.mo.gov/buypermits, through MDC’s free MO Hunting app, through a permit vendor, or by calling 1-800-392-4115.
Permit selection will be determined by July 1 through a random drawing of all eligible applicants.
MDC is not issuing landowner-specific black bear hunting permits, however, a minimum of 10 percent of zone-specific resident black bear permits will be allocated to qualifying landowners. Zone-specific permits can be used anywhere in the specified zone on public or private property (with landowner permission). To qualify, landowners must have at least 20 contiguous acres within the BMZ for which they are applying.
Qualifying landowners must first submit their property information through MDC’s Landowner Permit Application at mdc.mo.gov/landownerpermits before completing a black bear permit application.
Learn more about bear hunting in Missouri at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/bear.
The black bear is one of the largest and heaviest wild mammals in Missouri with some reaching up to 500 pounds.
MDC’s 2020-2030 Black Bear Management Plan will guide bear management in Missouri for the next decade. Learn more about black bears in Missouri and MDC management efforts at mdc.mo.gov/bears.