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Hunters take 12 black bears in Missouri's first bear season

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Posted at 1:55 PM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 15:03:38-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri hunters took 12 black bears in the state's first bear-hunting season.

The season ran from Oct. 18 to Oct. 27, with more than 6,330 hunters applying for 400 permits.

The hunters could have taken 28 more bears with the 40-bear season limit, but Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) officials call the inaugural season a success.

“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,” MDC State Furbearer and Black Bear Biologist Laura Conlee said.

Conlee added MDC's conservative approach made the hunt "an extremely challenging endeavor" for the many first-time bear hunters.

MDC set limits which would allow for a sustainable hunt. Aside from the 40-bear and 400-hunter season limit, MDC also prohibited practices including baiting and the use of dogs.

To avoid losing too many bears, the department also limited the hunt to 10 days and three designated areas called bear management zones (BMZ), which were mostly located south of Interstate 70.

Each zone had its own bear limit. Hunters were limited to one bear per permit issued.

BMZ 1200129
BMZ 2150153
BMZ 35500

Black bear numbers have grown over the last 50 years, after the population was nearly eliminated due to settlement, loss of habitat and unregulated hunting in the late 1800s.

Now, Missouri has around 800 bears, which primarily inhabit areas south of Interstate 44.

The population is increasing by 9% each year and is expected to double in 10 years.

MDC plans to continue using managed hunts to control the population.