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SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- Black bear hunting season officially began in Missouri on October 18, and so far, three bears have been harvested.

According to Francis Skalicky with the Missouri Department of Conservation, two bears were harvested Monday and one Tuesday morning. He adds all three bears were in Zone 1, Southwest Missouri.

The Department of Conservation approved the hunt last spring. It runs for ten days. It is only open to Missouri hunters and in designated parts of southern Missouri.

Officials said the state’s black bear population has been growing over the last several years. They said a well-regulated hunt will help manage that number.

“So our bear population has been growing steadily over many, many decades. We have good survival and high reproduction so right now, it’s estimated at about 800 bears in the state and growing at about 9% annually, so with that growth rate, we’d expect it to double in about a decade,” said Laura Conlee, furbearer and black bear biologist.

Hunters had to apply, and 400 bear tags were drawn randomly.

“MDC has established three Bear Management Zones (BMZ) in southern Missouri and will issue annual permit numbers and harvest quotas for each of the three BMZs. Each permit will be for a specific BMZ and may be used on public or private property within the BMZ,” MDC says.

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.

Hunting hours will be 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. MDC says firearms and archery will be allowed. Baiting and the use of dogs will not be allowed.

Harvesting rules:

  • One bear per limit
  • Only lone bears can be taken
  • Hunters cannot take bears that are known to be in the presence of others bears, including female black bears with cubs
  • Do not disturb, push, harass, or take bears from a den
  • Hunters must wear hunter orange, make reasonable efforts to retrieve shot bears, and may not leave or abandon commonly edible portions.

MDC says all harvested bears must be telechecked by 10 p.m. on the day of harvest and 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. MDC says this will help 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 states.