KIRKWOOD, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) invites St. Louis area residents to an open house to learn more about black bears in Missouri. The open house will take place Tuesday, July 30, from 6-8 p.m. at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center in Kirkwood with a presentation at 6 p.m. In May, a black bear found its way inside a school building in Eureka. Among the largest species of wildlife in the Show-Me-State, black bears are no longer confined to the remote Ozarks. Bear sightings are increasing around the St. Louis region as the population continues to grow and expand.
The open house event will provide information on MDC black-bear research projects and management efforts, MDC’s draft black bear management plan, potential future hunting opportunities, and how to handle conflicts with nuisance bears. MDC staff will also be taking comments on these and other related topics regarding black bears in Missouri. There is no fee to attend and no advanced registration is required.
Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center is located at 11715 Cragwold Road, near the intersection of I-270 and I-44. For more information, contact MDC Public Involvement Coordinator Michele Baumer at Michele.Baumer@mdc.mo.gov, or 573-522-4115 Ext. 3350.
New MDC research indicates an estimated 540–840 black bears in Missouri, up from the previous population estimate of 350 derived from a 2012 study. With this new information, MDC will begin developing details for a limited bear-hunting season as a method to help manage the population. To comment on MDC’s draft black-bear management plan and black bears in Missouri, visit mdc.mo.gov/bears.
Out of the three species of bears that live in the U.S. -- black bears, polar bears, and grizzlies -- the American black bear is the only species that resides in Missouri. The black bear is one of the largest and heaviest wild mammals in Missouri, some reaching up to 500 pounds. These bears were nearly eliminated from unregulated killing in the late 1800s, as well as from habitat loss when Ozark forests were logged. However, a small number of native black bears survived and reintroduction efforts in Arkansas also helped to increase their numbers in southern Missouri. For more information on black bears in Missouri, visit the MDC online Field Guide at nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/american-black-bear.
Black bears are currently a protected species in Missouri. MDC research shows most of the black bear population resides in the southern third of the state in the Missouri Ozarks, but Missouri’s population is growing, and bears are moving into areas north of Interstate 44. Wandering bears have also been seen as far north as the Iowa-Missouri state line. For more information on MDC black-bear research, go online to https://research.mdc.mo.gov/project/missouri-black-bear-project.