Missouri proposes opening its small black bear population to trophy hunters

By on May 27, 2020 with 44 Comments

Missouri has proposed a hunting season on its small and still-recovering population of black bears, who were once nearly wiped out because of overhunting and logging, which decimated their habitat.

The Missouri Department of Conservation estimates that there are now approximately 540 to 840 bears in the state. But some studies show that those numbers may be inflated. And even if there are as many bears as the MDC claims, it’s still not a large number.

Missouri has no good reason for allowing such a hunt. Bears self-regulate their own populations because of limited food availability and slow reproduction. There have also been minimal bear-human conflicts in the state, and these are entirely preventable.

Fact is, the only reason the MDC is proposing this hunt is to appease trophy hunters. But Missourians do not support it, not least because it would deprive a majority of the state’s residents of the joy of seeing a black bear in the wild. According to a March 2019 poll conducted by Remington Research Group for the Humane Society of the United States, nearly half of Missouri residents outright oppose hunting the state’s bears while fewer than a third support such a hunt.

Instead of allowing trophy hunters to kill them, the MDC ought to be working hard to preserve its bear population. Bears are critical for a thriving ecosystem. They disperse seeds across vast distances—even more seeds than birds. They open up forest canopies and allow sun to filter to the forest floor. They also break logs while grubbing, which helps the decomposition process and facilitates the return of nutrients to the soil. Keeping bears protected is critical to maintaining the state’s biodiversity.

These are also incredible animals, highly intelligent with strong family ties. Bears have the largest brain size of any carnivore and are highly sentient. They spend prolonged periods raising and nurturing their young. They are also slow to reproduce, which means hunting them can lead to their numbers dropping even faster than projected. Trophy hunters also tend to target adult breeding animals, which can lead to cubs being killed by incoming male bears looking to take over the newly opened territory.

Black bears are naturally shy and typically try to avoid humans, and the only times they are likely to come near humans is when there is food available. The MDC can help avoid such conflicts by expanding public education about simple, non-lethal preventative measures that residents can take to coexist peacefully with bears–including using bear-resistant trash cans, cleaning up BBQ grills, feeding pets indoors, and using electric fencing around chicken coops and beehives.

In what is also a concerning development, the MDC’s proposal leaves the cruel practices of bear baiting and bear hounding on the table “if management needs change in the future,” although these are not part of the current proposal. Hound hunting, or using packs of dogs to pursue bears, is an incredibly cruel practice that causes stress and distress to wildlife, and to the hounds themselves. Baiting—the practice of leaving large piles of junk food to attract the animals and then shoot them—is particularly heartless. Baits often attract mother bears who are looking for food but who find themselves in the crosshairs of a hunter instead. An overwhelming 77% of Missourians are strongly opposed to these methods, according to the Remington poll, and the MDC should not even be considering it.

Missouri’s wildlife officials would do well to heed the needs of the state’s wonderful wild animals, and the wishes of their residents, instead of kowtowing to a handful of trophy hunters. If you’re a Missouri resident, please let the MDC know that you’re opposed to this unnecessary killing of the state’s small and vulnerable bear population. The agency is accepting input on this proposal until June 5th, and raising your voice in opposition to it could make all the difference.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Beth Josolowitz says:

    Seems like with this and puppy mills Missouri might be renamed Misery

  2. Sylvia Lewis says:

    When are some humans going to learn that Trophy Hunting serves no purpose other than to satisfy the worst,, most barbaric impulses lurking within ancient man?
    As an animal lover/appreciator, my respect for any animals and in this case, the magnificent bears calls upon respect and awe..not needless murder. Like the Trump family who display their grinning face while holding a glorious animal they’ve just slaughtered, the thought of condoned Trophy Hunting of any animal merely sickens any decent or intelligent human to the core.

  3. Marla Sugarman says:

    Having been born in Missouri and lived there until I was 30, I’m appalled and disgusted with this cruel and totally unnecessary proposal. This encourages cowardly people to murder defenseless wild animals, and sets back the resurgence of this bear population.

  4. April K Metheny says:

    LEAVE THE BEAR ALONE! There is absolutely NO need, reason to cause such pain & suffering. Baiting & killing mother bears orphaning her babies for a big male bear to cruelly rip them apart to reclaim the territory! How would you like being done the VERY same way with your young killed off for no good reason other than GREEDY jackasses! The bear were here before you. They are God’s creatures, beautiful, intelligent animals with strong family ties! Who are you to tear all this down just for “trophy hunting?” You’re nobody and certain will not be on Judgement Day when you stand before out Master & have to explain “WHY? Why would you mistreat my animals In such a manner? What say you?” Now……………..chew on that awhile & if you still do this I pray this bears 🐻 (pun intended) down on your mind heavily & makes you sick!

  5. Buzzy says:

    This cruelty blows my mind. Where do hunters leave their hearts and souls when they go out to kill animals like these bears in Missouri? It is loathsome and immoral. I hope the people of Missouri can prevent this.

  6. Buzzy says:

    BTW, I went to the Missouri Dept. of Conservation site and filled out the form and repeatedly and politely ask that they stop the cruel and unnecessary slaughter of bears proposed to satisfy the heroic “trophy hunters.” (See the songs by Peter and Gordon “World Without Love”(McCartney/Lennon?)and Jackie DeShannon’s (Burt Bacharach)”What The World Needs Now.”)

    • Cynthia Robinette says:

      Thank you for making the effort stop this cowardly and cruel action. Cynthia Robinette

  7. Lynda says:

    Stop this madness!

  8. Elsa says:

    Stop slaughtering animal. Monsters. Everyone knows you are fueled by GREED

  9. Linda says:

    MISSOURI, STOP KILLING INNOCENT ANIMALS. If the world continues to live in the dark ages, we do not STAND a chance.

  10. WENDY KAUFF says:

    Leave the bears and wildlife alone. Stop harassing them beating, trapping or hunting with hounds. ENOUGH!!!!!!!

  11. Eilene Moore says:


  12. Cláudia Clouse says:

    It’s hard to believe that despite what we are going through at the moment (due to animal cruelty and ignorance) this behavior is seeing as normal. It’s barbaric and ruthless. Use your time and energy to help all of the animals that are suffering- or the thousands of homeless people, the veterans or whomever needs kindness.
    We need to be a better example to the younger generation, not allowing them to witness that still in the 21st century power and greed rules. It’s a shame!

  13. Christa Dr. Pardeller says:

    Animals are living creatures
    Do not kill animals
    God sees everything
    Do not be cruel to animals
    Do not kill animals




  15. John Heitz says:

    We are finally getting bears back in Missouri, I guess now it’s time to start stocking and killing them again. This is not a case of over population or disease it’s simply a chance to murder another animal for sport.

  16. Gun-Britt Barkman says:

    Stop it

  17. Linda kreydatus says:

    No need to kill please stop man is the most dangerous animal on earth
    God put animals here for a reason and we need to respect them and let them be

  18. Connie hooks says:

    Do not start the hunt back up.

  19. Lisa Bergeron says:

    Please,please make this stop.Tiny men ,big guns!!!Leave animals alone!!

  20. Susan Richards says:

    Please stop killing our Wildlife. It is not necessary. This is 2020 not 1820.

  21. Karen says:

    All Misorians…STOP attempts at LEGAL SLAUGHTER for the sake of sport!

  22. Bob Thorton says:

    So there are 540 to 840 black bears in Missouri, and the Missouri Department of Conservation thinks it’s a good idea to start “killing them for fun?” Why don’t you listen to the majority of Missouri residents who DO NOT want them murdered by cowardly “trophy hunters,” but rather relish the idea of having the good fortune to witness these magnificent creatures raising their young and living their lives in peace in their natural habitat…Trophy hunting is defined as follows: “The act of hiding in the bushes and trees with a rifle and murdering an innocent, unassuming animal who poses no immediate threat of harm to you or any other human, generally for the purpose of hanging a body part on a wall in their home as decor; also synonymous with THE ACT OF A SPINLESS COWARD.” You have a few hundred magnificent creations of God called black bears in Missouri and you think it’s a good idea to start slaughtering them into extinction? Why don’t those who propose this so-called “hunt” come up with a solution for the species who overpopulates every single continent on earth, whose numbers now exceed 7.5 BILLION, who pollute the land, the sea, and the air, with such intensity that it is causing climate change the likes of which have never been seen in history and is literally destroying the environment, and whose incessant expansion and overpopulation have led to the destruction of thousands and thousands of acres of prime animal habitat, which has led to the extinction of multiple other species. No species on the planet causes the destruction, damage and extinction of other species like this one…HUMAN BEINGS…why don’t those who wish to murder these innocent, iconic black bears come up with that solution? People of intelligence and love of the planet want to see these incredible black bears living in their natural habitat as God created them to do, as an integral part of the ecosystem, not being murdered by a few bloodthirsty cowards “for fun”…follow the wishes of the MAJORITY and PROHIBIT THE COWARDLY ACT OF TROPHY HUNTING AND LEAVE THESE SPECTACULAR BEARS ALONE!!!

  23. CatherineCoe says:

    TYPICAL you kill animals those wonderful bears that aren’t hurting anyone if they’re left alone they’d probably leave you alone!?

  24. Bob Thorton says:

    The population in the State of Missouri is well over 6 MILLION people…bears were basically driven to extinction in Missouri by humans over hunting and destroying their habitat…now there are a few hundred bears, who bother no one, trying to regain their existence as God intended them to do, to be an integral part of the ecosystem of Missouri…6 MILLION people and there are those who think it’s a good idea now that there are a few hundred bears in Missouri to start “killing them for fun.” The overwhelming majority of people in Missouri DO NOT want to see these magnificent bears trophy hunted, but prefer the privilege of see these incredible creations of God living peacefully in their natural habitat. There are a small, very small number of people who enjoy “killing animals for fun,” and they are pushing for this so- called “hunting season of bears in Missouri.” This is the problem in America right now. In a democracy the majority rules, but we are in a period where we have the minority dictating policy for the entire country…it’s time all people who care about animals and the environment, stand up, make your voice heard, by contacting the Missouri Department of Conservation and demanding there by NO TROPHY HUNTING OF BEARS IN MISSOURI!!

  25. mr willis says:

    These vile laws must be revoked those bears were there long before !! The white man turned up a screwed the continent completely FFS America stop this pointless barbaric bloodshed !!!

  26. Janne Burgess says:

    Such terrible to read about the small black bears being killed like these. Please stop this creulity to the beautiful bears. They are so lovely.

  27. Betsy Berninghausen says:

    NO! Trophy hunting is humanely wrong! These selfish people should be banned from hunting. Let’s focus on preserving our animal population and ban any trophy hunting!

  28. Ellen Schlesinger says:

    Ellen schlesinger

    MCD. Ive been getting your monthly magazine for years and love it. Photography is the best! Good as National Geographic! PLEASE DONT ALLOW OUR BEARS TO BE HUNTED!!! They’ve only just returned. Also I’d rather see animals shot than trapped. By and large even murders shoot their victims they dont make them suffer first. It’s inhumane. Its shocking to me you promote it! Please stop trapping altogether. Thanks!!!

  29. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Esto no puede pasar, no podemos permitir que maten animales solo por diversión

  30. Anne Hayton says:

    Why carnt man just leave them alone they hav th right to live nd b free they dont belong to man belong to our creator

  31. Dawn Thomforde says:

    Dawn Thomforde. This MUST not go on!! I have donated money that I don’t have to groups that are helping us put an end to this crap. We are in the position that we are in because of our horrible treatment of animals, hence Covid-19. This country wants to blame China for barbarism. WE ARE NO BETTER!! Take a peak in our slaughter houses. Take a look at the bill on Trump’s right now allowing the killing of bear and wolf cubs!! It’s time people. We need to organize peaceful protests against these barbaric practices in our own country!

  32. Brody says:

    Actually you are wrong, it is a lottery so it’s based off of luck, you submit your name and then if you get drawn then you get your tag but you aren’t promised a hunt and it’s not trophy hunting as long as you eat what you kill and don’t just skin the bear and leave it for the vultures

  33. Paul says:

    Your studies are flawed

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