Missouri conservation officials to host black bear education program before first hunting season

Missouri News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – With black bear hunting season coming up on Oct. 18, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) wants everyone to be prepared, and not just hunters.

The MDC will host an online education program on Thursday, Sept. 30, from 6-8 p.m. Media specialist Francis Skalicky says anyone can join and listen in for free after registering.

“We’ve had some previous programs that were just for the people that were drawn for the season that’s coming up,” Skalicky said. “But we wanted to make this open to the public too because we want everybody to know about the season that’s going on. We encourage you to do it, so you find out about bear season in Missouri. We want everybody to know about this bear season. Anytime you have the first of something, that’s a good thing.”

400 Missourians were selected in a random drawing to hunt in the state’s first-ever black bear hunting season.

“The last time people were hunting bears in Missouri, it was still being settled,” Skalicky said.

In Thursday’s session, those who weren’t selected will be able to learn about the Show Me State’s bear population, which is growing at a nine percent rate. Skalicky says Missouri has somewhere around 800 bears. Lately, some have been found in urban areas.

“One of the components of healthy outdoors is wildlife diversity,” Skalicky said. “The more animals you have on the landscape and the more diverse it is, the healthier it is. The fewer animals you have that are thriving, that means you probably have some problems on the landscape. So the fact that we have a bear population that’s doing well in Missouri is just another marker that indicates our outdoors are thriving.”

Skalicky says even if you’re not going to hunt this season, the online program will still teach some valuable lessons.

“It will tell you about what bears are doing in Missouri,” Skalicky said. “It will explain how Missouri’s bear population is part of a larger population that extends into Oklahoma, extends down into Arkansas. Bears don’t know state lines. It will tell you about how this population is not just a Missouri population.”

Also, he says the course will help relieve some concerns about how hunting might affect Missouri’s bear population.

“They will find out that it will have a minimal impact,” Skalicky said. “It’s a sporting opportunity. But at the same time, the overall population will continue to be stable.”

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