Missouri’s bear population is growing in size and expanding in range.
Primary bear range is forested areas south of I-44.
Expansion areas are regions where bear reports are becoming more frequent. Most reports in these areas are of male bears, although some females and breeding have been documented in or very near expansion areas. Expansion areas are near Lake of the Ozarks, south/west of St. Louis, near Poplar Bluff.
Research indicates that Missouri is home to approximately 540 – 840 black bears.
The bear population estimate is derived from a model that uses data collected from our bear den research project including female survival, cub production, cub survival and litter sex ratios.
The population estimate is given as a range because it is impossible to know exactly how many bears there are in the state (can’t count each one) and the model takes into account the variability in survival and production.
MDC is proposing a limited, and highly regulated black bear hunting season.
The goal of the initial hunting season is to provide opportunity for Missourians to participate in the sustainable harvest of a valuable natural resource.
Season timing and length, restrictive methods, and permit allocation coupled with a harvest quota will initially be limited to ensure sustainable harvest of our growing bear population.
In the future, as the bear population grows and upon establishment of population benchmarks, regulated harvest will serve as an essential component of population management.
Public comments on the proposed season framework can be submitted online from May 18 - June 5.
There will not be a black bear hunting season in 2020. The earliest a season could occur is the fall of 2021.
Human-bear conflict is increasing with the growing bear population. Attraction to food is the most frequent source of human-bear conflict. Removing or securing food attractants is key to preventing the majority of human-bear conflicts, including:
MDC has tools available to aversively condition persistent bears.
If you experience damage or nuisance activity from a bear, contact your MDC Regional Office or your local Conservation Agent.
Don’t feed bears – intentionally or accidentally. A fed bear is a dead bear – when bears lose their fear of people (often by receiving food), they may become bold in search of food. This can result in bears approaching people or breaking into homes/garages/etc to find food. Bears that exhibit bold behavior are often euthanized.
If you see a bear, enjoy the encounter from a distance, give the bear an escape route and never run.
Bear attacks on humans are extremely rare but can occur. Being Bear Aware helps keep you safe.
Report bear sightings to MDC at www.mdc.mo.gov/reportbears. If you experience damage or nuisance activity from a bear, contact your MDC Regional Office or your local Conservation Agent.
Contact Laura Conlee, MDC Furbearer Biologist, 573-815-7900, ext. 2903, Laura.firstname.lastname@example.org.