ST. LOUIS – Missouri has a new proposal to allow people to hunt black bears in the near future.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and the public are voicing their concerns about the proposal.
Laura Conlee, furbearer and black bear biologists with the MDC says historically, Missouri had an abundance of bears.
Canlee says habitat lost and unregulated harvest drove the bear population numbers very low in the early 1900s leading people to believe there were no more black bears in Missouri.
However, in the 1950s and 1960s, the black bear population was stocked in Arkansas, growing the population.
As the population grew in Arkansas, black bears migrated to Missouri, growing the state’s numbers.
In recent years, sightings of black bears have increased throughout Southern Missouri.
The black bear population is now extending towards the Missouri River.
The MDC has been keeping up with the black bear population by using tracking collars to assess and monitor the growing number of bears.
The HSUS released a statement Oct. 16 saying, “Tell Missouri to Trash its black bear hunt proposal; it’s based on research funded by Safari Club.”
In the statement, HSUS says Missouri needs its bears as they play a critical role in the state’s ecosystem and spread more seeds than birds.
HSUS also explained Missouri’s bear population is still recovering from the wipeout of the 1900’s due to hunting.
To learn more about this proposal or to voice your concerns visit mdc.mo.gov/bears.