Missouri's first black bear hunting season is slated for Oct. 18-27, the Missouri Department of Conservation announced Friday.
The Missouri Conservation Commission gave final approval of MDC's season recommendation at its meeting Thursday.
The approved regulations limit bear hunting to Missouri residents and restrict bear hunting to designated areas of southern Missouri, according to an MDC news release.
Missouri residents will be able to apply during May for the hunt with permit selection by July 1 through a random drawing of applicants.
Missouri's estimated 800 black bears are found south of the Missouri River and primarily south of I-44. MDC has established three Bear Management Zones (BMZs) in southern Missouri and will issue annual permit numbers and harvest quotas for each BMZ. Each permit will be for a specific BMZ and may be used on public or private property within the zone.
Cole, Maries, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan and Osage counties in Mid-Missouri are considered in BMZ 3.
The limited hunting 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 limited and regulated black-bear hunting season following several years of public comment, including informational open houses in 2019 and a public-input process in spring and fall 2020, according to the department's news release.
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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, must make reasonable efforts to retrieve shot bears, and may not leave or abandon commonly edible portions.
All bears that are killed must be telechecked by 10 p.m. on the day of harvest. The 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 killed bear within 10 days of harvest to help department 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. Applications may be made online at mdc.mo.gov/buypermits, through MDC's 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. Those selected will be eligible to buy a permit at a cost of $25. 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.
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.