Note from the President:
This has been a tough year for scheduling events that we were planning due to Covid-19. On Wednesday, September 23rd, we did manage to get in our 3rd Annual Sporting Clay Fun Shoot in cooperation with BlackHawk Valley Hunting Club’s Wednesday night sporting clays league. All who attended the evening received a raffle ticket and attendance prizes were given out at the end of the evening. We hope to be able to host this event next year again, along with our Shoot for the Vets, traditionally held in October at Nilo Farms, Winchester’s facility, in Brighton, IL.
Missouri Black Bear
SCI and SCIF have been very active in the Missouri Black Bear hunt initiative, below is some information Michael Roqueni, our SCI Chapter Specialist ask that we get to our members:
“Missouri has successfully recovered a population of between 540 and 840 black bears. Missouri’s bear population is estimated to double in the next decade. As you know, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is proposing to open a black bear hunting season to responsibly manage this growing population and control its rate of increase.
The MDC is accepting public comments on the proposal. Comments can be submitted through an online survey, available at: https://mdc.mo.gov/about-us/about-regulations/wildlife-code-missouri/proposed-regulation-changes/proposed-regulations?nid=326029. The survey allows commenters to “support” or “oppose” the proposed regulations and to provide additional information in a text box.
SCI and SCIF request that you ask your Chapter members to submit comments in strong support of the proposed hunting season. SCI members can share their own experiences with black bears and bear hunting, describe how hunting is a source of food and a traditional family activity, or explain how hunting is used around the country as a wildlife management tool and a way for state game and fish agencies to generate conservation funding. As a starting point, members can use some or all of the ideas provided below for their comments.
SCI and SCIF strongly support the proposal. The MDC has planned a highly regulated hunt. Individual quotas will be set for each of three hunting zones. The MDC expects that the total offtake for 2021 would be around 50 bears. The regulations include safeguards to ensure the harvest is conservative, including the ability to close hunting in a zone if the harvest exceeds 80% of the quota; limiting the number of bear permits issued; and restricting take to lone bears. In addition, the MDC will require hunters to check in a successful hunt by 10 p.m. on the same day and will collect scientific data about the bears from successful hunters.
Thank you for sharing this request with your members. Animal rights groups have been mobilizing against the proposal, and we hope SCI members can offset those negative comments with our support.
- Black bear hunting is a longstanding tradition, a means of shared recreation, and an opportunity to pass on family traditions and appreciation for nature. It provides a valuable source of food in the form of organic protein. And according to the Northeast Black Bear Technical Committee, “black bear harvest through regulated hunting remains the most effective tool for managing bear populations throughout the region.” The Technical Committee also concluded that hunting provides economic benefits and may have a significant economic impact in rural communities. “Additionally, by purchasing licenses to hunt bears, hunters pay to provide a public service (i.e., bear population control), thereby reducing the tax burden and generating revenue that supports wildlife conservation and management.”
- The MDC held public hearings on the proposed rule, and 87% of respondents supported a highly regulated hunting season, because hunting is the “best way to manage a bear population” and “creates opportunities to get outdoors and create memories.” Further, almost 40% of participants in the public meetings expressed an interest in hunting bears.
- Missouri’s current population of 540-840 bears is part of a broader population of thousands of bears that Missouri shares with Oklahoma and Arkansas. Scientific studies demonstrate that black bear populations can withstand 15-20% harvest rates without any population decline. The MDC’s likely total harvest quota of 50 bears will be less than 10% of the lowest population estimate for Missouri. That conservative offtake will still allow for population growth, but at a manageable rate.
- Regulated hunting is the only recognized tool for responsible bear population management. Of the 39 States with populations estimated at over 200 black bears, only Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, and Missouri do not currently have bear hunting seasons. Florida and Connecticut are both considering the establishment of hunting seasons, and Louisiana’s black bears were recently removed from the Endangered Species Act list, thus opening the door for future seasons. Bear hunting also generates important revenues for bear conservation.
- Although Missouri does not currently have a high level of human-bear conflicts, those conflicts could increase as the bear population increases. The MDC is wisely implementing a conservative hunting season to ensure that black bears remain in optimal habitat and do not disperse into more populated areas. This careful management will minimize the risk of an intensification in human-bear conflicts. Regulated hunting can contribute to ensuring that bears remain in the highest-quality habitat.
- The MDC has developed a robust black bear population estimate based on a decade of research. As an SCI member, I am proud that the Safari Club International Foundation helped fund that research and supported the development of Missouri’s Black Bear Management Plan. The research shows that Missouri supports a growing black bear population that can provide a recreational hunting opportunity for Missouri citizens. The MDC’s proposed regulations will ensure that hunting harvest is sustainable and provide for responsible and proactive management of Missouri’s black bear population.
- I support the stated goals of the MDC’s black bear management plan to use science to manage the State’s expanding bear population, to increase public awareness of black bears, and to minimize human-bear conflict. I further support the plan’s scientific objectives, which include modeling population growth, integrating human dimensions aspects, and studying bear habitat use. Given that the most recent study estimates a statewide population of 540-840 bears, with a 9% growth rate and expanding range, I support the MDC’s proactive consideration of hunting to manage the bear population to support conservation.
- I support the highly regulated proposal for bear hunting in Missouri. I support the bag limit of one bear, the current restrictions on methods of harvest, the establishment of management zones with zone-specific quotas, and the restrictions on the number of bear hunting permits that will be issued. I encourage the MDC to consider expanding the legal methods of bear harvest in the future, including the use of hounds and harvest of bears over bait. As the bear population grows and expands, these additional methods can make bear hunting an even more effective tool for managing Missouri’s bear population.
- I support the proposed requirements for same-day check-in of a successful bear harvest and the rule requiring that a successful hunter mail in a tooth to the MDC. Hunting is a valuable tool that state wildlife agencies rely upon to obtain data on wildlife populations. As a hunter, I am proud that I can directly contribute to the MDC’s understanding of the state’s black bear population.
- I congratulate the MDC for successfully recovering black bears in Missouri and bringing them back as a part of Missouri’s healthy forest ecosystems. I strongly support the MDC’s proposed hunting season. This is another shining example of the benefits of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.”
Youth Hunter of the Year
Something that we have done the last couple of years at our Banquet is to give out a “Youth Hunter of the Year” award to a deserving girl and boy under the age of 16 that is active in the outdoors. We are giving this award to both a deserving girl and boy, if you know of anyone that you would like to recommend for this award please contact Neal Feazel at 618-535-0002.