CAMDENTON, Mo. — Missourians interested in participating in the state’s first black bear hunting season have until May 31st to apply.
The Department of Conservation says around 800 bears are in the “Show Me State” right now. Margaret Salinas recently saw one on her property. She says the bear knocked over her trash cans and took some food as it went back to the woods. She cleaned the mess and left to go pick up her kids only to see the same bear return when they came home.
“All of the sudden my daughter goes ‘Mom, what is that?'” Salinas said. “Oh. My. Gosh. That’s the bear.”
Salinas had an 8, 10 and 13-year-old with her. Her oldest child was at home and opened the front door the family cat went outside.
“My daughter’s screaming ‘bloody murder’ because the cat’s running around,” Salinas said. “The bear’s going to eat it. She’s crying. I just wanted to deal with this. I finally just called 911.”
They stayed in their car for an hour while a conservation agent helped out.
“And then finally the Missouri Conservation officer got out what he called rubber bullets,” Salinas said. “Finally the bear ran away into the woods.”
She says she’ll never forget this experience.
“I check every morning now before I let them out to go to the school bus to make sure that the trash can is still standing and he hasn’t come back,” Salinas said.
Francis Skalicky with the Missouri Department of Conservation says to avoid situations like this, secure your trash cans, don’t leave food outside and make noise.
“It comes there because it probably is looking for food,” Skalicky said. “Chances are it’ll move on because it doesn’t want to be around you any more than you want to be around it.”
He gives this advice a little more than five months away from the state’s first-ever black bear hunting season.
“The last time people were hunting bears in Missouri, the state was still being settled,” Skalicky said. “So this is a historic time.”
Skalicky says Missouri’s bear population grows by nine percent every year.
“It’s another opportunity to add some wild gain meat to your table that you couldn’t buy at the store,” Skalicky said.
Only 400 permits will be given out through a drawing for the hunt.
Francis: “That’s the philosophy of all our hunting seasons… that we do need to protect the resource while we’re providing the recreational opportunity.”
Beginning in July, MDC will reach out to hunters who have been selected.