Bear hunting is in Missouris not so distant future

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COLUMBIA - Right now Missouri's Department of Conservation is looking at bears as the next big game for Missouri hunters.

The MDC is monitoring a slow yet steady growth of black bears, mainly in southern portions of the state, because of a bear migration from Arkansas.

“This population is a result of Arkansas releasing bears in the 1960’s and so we had a few bears from those releases that came up into Missouri. It just took us that long until we finally got to the point to now we have a population of bears and people are seeing bears,” MDC Resource Scientist, Jeff Beringer, said.

The MDC estimates there are around 350 bears in the state right now.

When that number eventually reaches around 500 bears the MDC plans to allow the hunting of them.

“We will have to hunt bears eventually cause bears are harvest limited species, in other words, if we have no hunting the only other way to control that population would be with automobile accidents, which we see in some urban areas with deer. We don’t want that to happen,” Beringer said.

One Missouri hunter, Robert Ogden, believes that bear hunting in Missouri can be a big thing in the state as long as the price to do so is reasonable.

“It’d be a cheaper cost as far as traveling to other states. Put more money in their pockets to provide for hunting and for their families if they're putting food on the tables,” Ogden said.

However, Beringer still believes it’ll be a few years before hunters can start hunting bears in Missouri, but when that time comes it will be a good thing that people are hunting them.

“It will be important to hunt bears in areas where we have a lot of conflicts, and that allows people to take care of these problems without having to get someone involved and euthanize the bear and no one uses it. Hunters can use these bears. They can eat them. There’s some recreation. I’m sure there will be people who want to come to Missouri to hunt a bear,” Beringer said.

Right now the MDC is just getting into making the regulations for hunting bears, but hunting in Missouri should happen sooner rather than later.