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Fur flies over Missouri proposal to allow hunting of black bears

Jack Suntrup, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Outdoors

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Wildlife watchers from places as far away as Germany have bashed a proposed black bear hunt in Missouri that would take place in October 2021.

The Missouri Department of Conservation proposed the event last month, saying a "limited" hunt was "essential" to managing the black bear population in the future "as Missouri's bear numbers continues to grow."

But the majority of people who filed public comments oppose the plan.

Through Tuesday, the Missouri Department of Conservation received more than 3,300 survey responses to the proposal. More than 67% of the respondents said they did not "agree with the proposed black bear hunting season dates and limits," according to a Post-Dispatch review of the results.

Only a handful of comments supportive of the hunt could be found in records of emails and letters from about 150 people. The public comment period began May 18 and ended Friday.

The number of comments illustrate a high level of public interest in the bear population, which the conservation department says is expanding its range and growing yearly. The department doesn't have a clear population estimate, saying there are between 540 and 840 bears in Missouri.

 

While the majority of those who responded to the survey opposed the hunt, others appeared to disagree with the plan's details.

"It is during prime deer hunting season," one wrote.

"I disagree with quotas, open it up, and keep it open. I hunt for food and would like to fill my freezers," said another.

Many comments said there were too few black bears to consider a hunt; others said such a hunt was inhumane.

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