Missouri Bear Hunting Laws and Regulations

Black Bear Hunting Season Dates and Quota Status

For the 2023 black bear hunting season, hunters can take to the field from October 16th through October 25th. However, this period is contingent upon the harvest quotas set for each Black Bear Management Zone (BMZ). To track the harvest and ensure adherence to regulations, hunters are required to make a daily call to the quota status hotline at 800-668-4045 before engaging in hunting activities. Updated information regarding quota fulfillment will be provided on this hotline by midnight each day throughout the bear hunting season.

Harvest figures are evaluated each day after 10 p.m. In case the quota for a particular BMZ is met, there will be an immediate cease of hunting activities for that zone, starting from the next day. Active management strategies have been enforced by the Conservation Department whereby if 80 percent of a BMZ's quota has been reached, the director may opt to close hunting early in that specific zone to prevent overharvesting.

It's critical for hunters within any BMZ to cease hunting black bears if either the harvest quota for their zone has been fulfilled or if the director has decided to close the season early. Engaging in black bear harvest beyond these set boundaries is against the regulations. By following these stringent guidelines, hunters contribute to the responsible conservation and management of black bear populations.

Black Bear Management Zones (BMZ) Regulations

Missouri Bear Hunting Laws and Regulations

Black bear hunting is geographically restricted in the state, with designated areas of permissible hunting activities confined to regions south of the Missouri River. These areas are known as Black Bear Management Zones (BMZs), and they are delineated to facilitate effective wildlife management and oversight.

For hunters, it is imperative to note that hunting is strictly permitted only within the BMZ that correlates with the area indicated on their official hunting permit. This rule is enforced to maintain order and support sustainable hunting practices within each BMZ. Compliance with this regulation ensures that hunters are legally operating within the bounds of the permit issued to them, and also aids in the conservation efforts to manage and preserve the black bear population effectively.

Definitions of Black Bear Management Zones

BMZ 1 Boundaries

BMZ 1 encompasses the western region of Missouri, defined by significant road landmarks. It starts from the Arkansas border following northward on U.S. Highway 63 until it intersects with U.S. Highway 60. The boundary continues west on U.S. Highway 60, reaching MO-360, and carries on westward on MO-360 until it connects with Interstate 44. The delineation proceeds along Interstate 44 all the way west to the Oklahoma state line.

BMZ 2 Boundaries

The second BMZ lies principally in the eastern section of Missouri. The delineation originates at the Arkansas border moving north on U.S. Highway 63 to where it meets Interstate 44. The boundary tracks east along Interstate 44 to State Highway 47, then heads north on State Highway 47 reaching up to the Missouri River. The eastern boundary is demarcated by the Missouri River itself, extending all the way to the Illinois state boundary.

BMZ 3 Boundaries

BMZ 3 covers a southern portion of Missouri, its boundaries crafted by several major roadways. Beginning from the Kansas state border, the boundary runs eastward following the course of the Missouri River to State Highway 47. It then proceeds south on State Highway 47 until it intersects with Interstate 44. The boundary extends west on Interstate 44 to reach U.S. Highway 63, and it then follows south on U.S. Highway 63 to U.S. Highway 60. At U.S. Highway 60, the line heads west to MO-360, which leads further west until bordering Interstate 44, continuing to the Oklahoma border.

These elaborately defined boundaries for each Black Bear Management Zone are essential for enforcing hunting regulations and ensuring the conservation of Missouri's black bear populations. Hunters must strictly adhere to hunting within the BMZ for which they have been permitted, without straying beyond the established zones.

Black Bear Hunting Regulations: Shooting Hours and Limits

Shooting Hours

Black bear hunters are permitted to hunt from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset. This regulation is strictly enforced to ensure hunting occurs during periods of adequate daylight for visibility and safety.

Harvest Limits and Quota Monitoring

The season's limit is set at one black bear per hunter, regardless of gender. To manage the black bear population sustainably, there are additional controls in place linked to the Harvest Quota.

Harvest Quota Procedures

Before commencing each day's hunt, hunters must call the dedicated hotline at 800-668-4045 to check if the Harvest Quota for their designated BMZ has been reached. The hotline is refreshed with the latest quota information no later than midnight every day during the open hunting season, ensuring hunters receive updated status reports.

Harvest figures are reassessed daily after 10 p.m. In instances where the Harvest Quota for a BMZ is achieved, the hunting season for that zone will end the following day, prohibiting further harvesting of black bears.

Furthermore, the Conservation Department director holds the discretion to close hunting prematurely within any BMZ if the harvest approaches 80 percent of the set quota. In such cases, or when the Harvest Quota is fully met, hunting for black bears within the affected BMZ must be immediately ceased. Compliance with these measures is crucial for the legal and ethical hunting of black bears and to uphold conservation efforts.

Regulations for Black Bear Harvest Eligibility and Legal Hunting Methods

Eligible Bears for Harvest

Strict criteria dictate which black bears may be legally harvested:

  • Only solitary black bears are eligible for harvest.
  • Bears in the presence of other bears, particularly sows accompanied by cubs, are protected and must not be targeted.
  • Black bears occupying a den are also off-limits; they cannot be harvested or harassed in any way.

Legal Methods of Harvest

The following methods are sanctioned for use in black bear hunting:

  • Firearms and Projectiles:

    • Rifles or handguns of centerfire type that use expanding bullets (lead or copper).
    • Shotguns may only be used with slugs.
    • Air-powered guns of .40 caliber or greater, which must be charged from an external high-compression source such as an external hand pump, tank, or compressor, are permitted.
    • Muzzleloading or cap-and-ball firearms must be .40 caliber or larger, firing a single projectile per discharge. Scopes and in-lines are permitted.
    • Multiple-barreled muzzleloading or cap-and-ball firearms, including revolvers of .40 caliber or larger, are also allowed, and may be carried alongside a muzzleloading rifle.
  • Archery Equipment:

    • Longbows, compound bows, and recurve bows are authorised for use. Additional permissibilities include hand-held string-releasing devices, illuminated sights, scopes, and quickpoint sights.
    • Crossbows are permitted.

Prohibited Methods and Equipment

The following are prohibited to ensure ethical hunting practices:

  • Firearms Limitations:

    • Firearms that self-load and have a capacity exceeding 11 rounds (both in magazine and chamber combined) are forbidden, with limited exceptions.
    • Ammunition that discharges more than one projectile per shot, such as buckshot.
    • Full-metal case projectiles and fully automatic firearms are banned.
  • Non-Weapon Restrictions:

    • The use of dogs in black bear hunting activities is illegal.
    • Electronic calls or electronically activated calls.
    • Any artificial lights, night vision, thermal imaging, or telemetry equipment.
    • Pursuing bears in water, from boats with motors, or any motor-driven vehicles or aircraft.
  • Baiting Regulations:

    • Employing bait to attract and hunt black bears is illegal and constitutes a serious offense. Bait includes all forms of food, livestock feed, bird/pet food, human-generated foods and concentrated powders. The exceptions are scents and minerals, but these are classified as bait if food additives are present. Within Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone counties, all salt products and minerals are banned.
    • A location remains designated as a baited site for ten days post the complete removal of bait. Committing harvest with the aid of bait, or positioning bait in a manner which may lead to another hunter's violation, is illegal.

Guidelines for Accompanying and Assisting Black Bear Hunters

Accompanying Youth Hunters

Adults fostering the next generation of hunters by accompanying youth aged 11–15 are provided specific exceptions. These individuals do not require a black bear hunting permit under the following conditions:

  • The adult is at least 18 years old.
  • They have either successfully completed a hunter-education certification or were born on or before January 1, 1967.

Assisting During Hunting Season

  • Outside of escorting youth hunters, any adult who wishes to actively assist another person in the process of hunting black bears requires a valid Resident Black Bear Hunting Permit, whether their own quota is filled or not.
  • To be legally assisting, the permit must be specific to the act of taking bears and should be on the person while engaged in assistance.

Non-Assistance Accompaniment

  • There is a clear distinction between passive accompaniment and active assistance:
    • Non-assisting company—the mere presence alongside a hunter, without engaging in the hunt or aiding in any capacity towards taking a bear—does not necessitate a black bear hunting permit.
    • To clarify, passive company is permissible without a permit so long as no activities performed by the companion contribute to the hunting process.

These stipulations cater to various scenarios, allowing for legal companionship and assistance while ensuring ethical hunting practices are upheld. It is critical for both youth mentors and all bear hunting assistants to understand their roles clearly and adhere to these regulations in order to maintain legal compliance throughout the black bear hunting season.

Mandatory Hunter Orange Apparel During Black Bear Season

Hunter Orange Requirement for All Hunters

During the black bear hunting season, every hunter is required to wear hunter orange, regardless of the chosen hunting method. This includes bow hunters who might otherwise believe they are exempt. The purpose of hunter orange is to increase visibility among hunters, thus reducing the risk of accidents.

Understanding the Specifics

  • Prior to heading out for the hunt, it is crucial to fully comprehend all hunter-orange regulations as stipulated by local hunting requirements. Often, this includes wearing a certain amount of hunter orange on both the upper body and head.
  • Ensuring compliance with hunter-orange requirements is not only a matter of legality but also of personal safety for hunters and those around them.

Hunter orange plays a vital role in hunter safety by providing a bright and noticeable indicator of human presence in densely wooded areas or places with limited visibility. All black bear hunters should prioritize understanding and adhering to these requirements to contribute to a safer hunting environment for everyone.

Black Bear Hunting Regulations: Canine Involvement

In the context of black bear hunting, the involvement of dogs is highly regulated to ensure safety and compliance with wildlife management practices. Specifically, the use of dogs for hunting black bears is strictly prohibited—their presence is not allowed during the act of bear hunting itself. Nevertheless, there is an exception to this rule, which is closely regulated and applies under particular circumstances.

When a black bear is wounded during a hunt, the recovery of the animal is a situation that necessitates meticulous handling. In such cases, a dog may be utilized but only under stringent regulations. The dog must be leashed and under the immediate control of an experienced handler who is tasked with tracking and recovering the injured bear. Importantly, before this tracking process begins, the handler is required by law to make contact with a conservation agent.

This contact is not a mere formality; it serves to authorize the tracking process and ensures the handler and any assisting individuals are briefed on and adhere to the specific instructions provided by the conservation agent. This step allows for coordination with wildlife authorities and serves to manage the situation within the legal framework designed to protect wildlife and individuals involved.

Furthermore, those participating in the tracking efforts—designated as trackers—are not required to hold hunting permits, under the condition that they are not the person responsible for wounding the bear. This regulatory allowance is aimed at encouraging efforts to recover wounded wildlife while maintaining the principle that only licensed hunters may engage in the act of hunting.

Trackers must not possess any form of weapon that could be used for hunting, including firearms, bows, or crossbows, with one statutory exception. That exception involves concealable firearms, as defined under Chapter 571 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo), which may be carried by trackers. However, even this is tightly controlled; such firearms cannot be used to hunt or take any form of wildlife. The containment of this caveat within the regulations is a clear indication of the priority given to safety and legal compliance within hunting practices.

These regulations are part of a broader framework aimed at ensuring ethical hunting practices and the effective management of wildlife populations. It reflects a balance between enabling humane recovery of wounded animals and maintaining strict control over the means by which wildlife is hunted.

Retrieval of Game: Ethical Hunting and Property Respect

Duty to Retrieve

Hunters have an ethical and regulatory obligation to follow up on any bear they kill or injure. It is essential to make every reasonable effort to locate and retrieve the animal, as failing to do so can be viewed as wasteful and unethical. Moreover, any bear retrieved must be accounted for in the hunter's seasonal limit, emphasizing the responsibility of hunters to manage their game ethically.

Trespassing Concerns

While the recovery of game is a requirement, hunters must also respect private property boundaries. Retrieval efforts for injured or killed game do not grant hunters the right to trespass on private land. Should a bear flee onto private property after being hunted, hunters are expected to seek permission from landowners before entering their land to recover the game.

Responsible hunters balance the necessity of game retrieval with the respect of landowner rights to prevent trespassing violations while engaging in their hunting activities. By upholding these principles, hunters exhibit accountability and reverence for both the animals they pursue and the laws that govern the sport.

Anti-Wanton Waste Regulations in Hunting

Prohibition of Waste

Hunters are legally bound to adhere to anti-wanton waste laws, which prohibit the deliberate desertion or abandonment of any part of wildlife typically consumed by humans. This principle of ethical hunting necessitates that hunters utilize as much of their harvested game as possible for human food.

Consequences of Violation

Ignoring this law and leaving edible portions of wildlife behind is considered a legal offense, emphasizing the significance of responsible game management. It's an offense that goes against the tenets of conservation and ethical hunting practices, potentially leading to legal consequences for transgressors.

These regulations are in place not only to encourage respect for the life taken but also to ensure sustainable hunting practices that honor natural resources. Hunters should understand the legal mandates around wanton waste to avoid violations and maintain integrity within the hunting community.

Hunting Black Bears and Use of Equipment on Conservation Areas

Opportunities for Black Bear Hunting

For those looking to engage in black bear hunting, many conservation areas are available to facilitate this activity. Details on access and specific regulations will be forthcoming, providing prospective hunters with the necessary information to legally and ethically hunt black bears within designated areas.

Regulations for Tree Stands

Regarding the setup of tree stands on conservation areas, there is a limited season when their placement is permitted. From September 1st through January 31st, hunters may erect portable tree stands to enhance their hunting strategy. However, there are important stipulations to consider. Firstly, any unattended stand must include a clear identification, either with the user's full name and address or their assigned Conservation Number, to facilitate accountability and management.

Moreover, to preserve the natural state of the conservation areas and ensure the health of tree populations, the installation methods for such stands are controlled. Hunters may not employ nails, screw-in steps, or any other materials that may cause harm to trees. Respect for the environment is paramount, and hunters must ensure they fully comply with the conservation principles by avoiding actions that could result in damage to the area's flora.

Lastly, rules dictate that all stands be removed by the end of the assigned season, specifically before February 1st. Adherence to this guideline is crucial to prevent clutter and environmental impact on conservation areas, maintaining their utility for wildlife and other recreational users throughout the year.

Guidelines for Portable Blinds

Portable blinds are allowed on conservation areas as a tool for hunters to conceal themselves and increase their chances of a successful hunt. However, similar to tree stands, these blinds come with specific regulations. Blinds must be taken down and removed from the area every day; this helps ensure that the landscape remains free from litter and potential hazards. Leaving blinds unattended from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. is explicitly prohibited.

To further encourage responsible use of blinds, owners are advised to label their equipment with their contact details. This simple act of labeling assists in ownership identification and may prevent theft or misplacement. Additionally, it's recommended to display hunter-orange on the exterior of portable blinds. The bright coloration serves as a visual cue for other hunters in the vicinity, reducing the risk of accidents or disturbance by providing a clear warning of the blind's location.

These hunting regulations underscore the balance between providing hunting opportunities on conservation areas and ensuring the preservation of these natural habitats. Compliance with these rules not only contributes to safety and prevents environmental degradation but also fosters a hunting culture that values stewardship and ethical practices.

Guidelines for Distribution and Custody of Harvested Black Bears

Transfer of Harvested Game

Hunters who wish to gift their harvested bear are permitted to do so under specific guidelines:

  • The gifted bear, with the exception of the gallbladder, must be labeled with the donor's full name, address, the date of the kill, and the Telecheck confirmation number.
  • Even upon gifting, the bear still counts towards the donor's seasonal limit.

Possession and Storage Requirements

For anyone in possession of a properly checked bear:

  • The bear must bear a label with important details including the taker's full name, address, the date the bear was taken, and the pertinent Telecheck confirmation number.
  • The Telecheck number must remain attached to the carcass up until a meat processor begins work on the animal.
  • Bears left at commercial processing or cold storage facilities must be retrieved by the owner before May 1 following the season in which they were taken.

Regulations on Sale and Transfer

  • Legally acquired wildlife or parts thereof, after being mounted or tanned, may be sold or purchased legally, with a mandatory bill of sale.
  • The bill of sale is essential and must encompass the species and number of items sold, seller's complete details, and buyer's full name and address. It is the buyer's responsibility to retain this document during the possession of these wildlife parts.

Prohibitions on Black Bear Gallbladders

  • The buying, selling, transferring, or gifting of black bear gallbladders is strictly prohibited.
  • Extracted gallbladders are not to be transported into or within Missouri, no matter where the bear was harvested.

Mandatory Premolar Tooth Submission

As part of conservation studies:

  • Hunters who successfully harvest a black bear are required to submit one premolar tooth within 10 days post-harvest.
  • This biological data aids in monitoring and research of the bear populations.

These detailed provisions serve to keep a check on the distribution and responsible use of game while providing vital information for wildlife conservation efforts. They underline the importance of ethics, legality, and accountability in the handling and utilization of harvested game.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.