Missouri black bears, a native species to our state, neared extinction in the early 1900’s due to land clearing and logging. But a small number survived. Since then, the black bear population has grown to an estimated 385 and are a protected species in our state. They’ve barely recovered, but already the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is preparing to open up a trophy-hunting season on Missouri black bears.
Black bears are highly intelligent, with the ability to count and utilize tools, are emotionally complex and family-oriented. There hasn’t been a single human death by black bear in recorded Missouri history and there has only been one human death by bear attack in our state - when a man entered a cramped cage of a 750-pound Eurasian brown bear to wrestle with it.
Trophy hunting black bears is unnecessary and cruel.
Here’s some background information about black bears:
The Missouri black bear population is small. The MDC has determined that the population rocketed from 350 black bears in 2018 to a number between 540-840 this year. According to studies, black bear annual growth rate is between 6% and 10% per year. Based on the science, our population could only have grown to 385 black bears in 2019.
Trophy hunting is not an effective means at population control. When communities start experiencing conflicts with black bears, too often state wildlife agencies institute a hunt. But studies show that there is no evidence to support that hunting resolves human-bear conflict and doesn’t permanently reduce bear populations. Numbers actually rebound with the increased availability of food. Black bears regulate their own population based on such food availability. It’s clear by their slow growth that their population increase is not a threat to our state.
Trophy hunting could negatively impact the bear population. Female black bears don’t reproduce until they’re three to five years old. A female will only produce an average litter of three cubs every other year - and many cubs do not survive past their first year.
Trophy hunting and killing exceed naturally-occurring black bear mortalities, because trophy hunters will kill adult breeding bears, disrupting animals’ societies and leading to more deaths. For example, once a, adult male bear is killed, incoming subadult male bears will try to kill the former male’s offspring.
Black bear conflict can be easily diverted and reduced. Bears are normally wary of people, but if a bear finds good without being frightened away, it may come back. These bears are often called “nuisance bears.” These are often subadult males - young bears who have just dispersed from their mothers and are still learning how to obtain food - and mothers with young cubs.
Avoiding habituating bears is easy. Be sure to make trash cans inaccessible, enclose any compost pile, recycle wisely, keep barbecue grills clean or inaccessible, and rethink bird feeders to keep black bears from wandering into your area.
Black bears are not a public health concern. People have little to fear in terms of catching a disease or parasite from bears. As warm-blooded animals, bears can get rabies, but it’s extremely rare. There are no known cases of a person catching rabies from a bear.
Black bears are are essential to our ecosystem and to biodiversity. They are linked to the population of other species and promoting forest growth, opening up canopies and amending soils through various behaviors. They disperse seeds across vast distances—even more seeds than birds.
Black bears are native to our state and they should be preserved and respected. We know that many Missourians, like you, care about their population and do not wish to see them trophy hunted and pushed to extinction in Missouri- again.
Please voice your opposition and submit comments to MDC here.
Be the voice for an animal in need today.