Bear populations on the rise, Elk Hunt scheduled

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The future for both animals here could look very different, but the MO Conservation Department is trying to keep the populations up.

Wildlife in Missouri is thriving at a new level for black bears and elk in 2019.

Both populations are up, and as far as elk go, Francis Skalicky with the Missouri Department of Conservation says it is moving as well.

“The elk herd is located in Carter, Reynolds, and Shannon County. They started off at Peck Ranch Conservation area, but as the population has grown a little bit, it has spread out,” says Skalicky.

Those elk were introduced in 2011, and Skalicky says the population sits at around 175 right now. By next fall, the Conservation Department expects it to get big enough to implement a hunting season.

“With growth, it shold be about 200 by next fall. That’s the level that we said we would have a hunting season. Tentatively scheduled to go into effect next fall, 2020. There is going to be both a limited archery season, and a limited firearms season,” Skalicky says.

The MDC only plans to allow a handful of people to do these hunts, and luck needs to be on your side if you’re going to have the chance.

“It’s going to be done on a lottery system, which means you’re going to be drawing for permits. The reason is, we dont want to open it up statewide because we didn’t bring them here just to extracate them. For the people who like seeing the elk, don’t worry,” says Skalicky.

Black bears are another animal that people have been seeing a lot of in the state.

“Black bears, the population is currently between 540-840 something like that. The population is also growing, primarily located in the southern part of the state,” Skalicky says.

Skalicky says those bears are mostly the result of Arkansas reintroducing them back in the 1950’s and 60’s. But if you are hoping to hunt a black bear, don’t get your hopes up yet.

There have been no plans to implement a bear season in Missouri.

The Conservation Department is currently in the stage of getting public comment on elk hunting set to begin next fall. You can find the link to comment by clicking here.

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