Bear

A week-long bear hunting season will be held in South Arkansas during December.

When the first South Arkansas bear season of modern times opens on December 10, bruins with radio collars won’t catch a break.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission decided last week to removal a regulation that prohibits shooting a radio-collared bear during open hunting seasons in Arkansas.

With the recently approved bear season in Bear Zones 3 and 4 and the subsequent crowdfunded black bear population research project taking place in south Arkansas, the regulation was lifted to give more accurate results of bear population dynamics when hunting seasons begin.

Director Austin Booth applauded the effort of AGFC biologists and staff who are currently undertaking to monitor the bear population and promote hunting as a viable tool to manage bear populations.

“AGFC Large Carnivore Program Coordinator Myron Means is with AGFC State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. (Jenn) Ballard in south Arkansas trapping bears and outfitting them with new GPS collars to unlock a whole new level of research with black bears,” Booth said. “We’re excited about the acquisition of those collars because we did it with partners Robbie Kroger of Blood Origins and a crowdsourcing fundraising effort with matches from the Cabela’s Foundation and Legends Ranch.”

The commission approved in May a limited bear season with a small quota in Bear Zones 3 and 4. Columbia County is in Zone 4.

Bears were hunted to an extinction level in South Arkansas by the 1890s. The state started a slow process to reintroduce the bear to its native Arkansas range in the 1970s, eventually working into southeastern Arkansas. There have been occasional bear sightings in Columbia County in recent years.

Bear Zones 3 and 4 will have season dates of December 10-16. There will be quota of five bears in Zone 3 and 25 bears in Zone 4.

Zone 4 is that part of Arkansas east of Interstate 30, and west of U.S. 65. Zone 3 is west of Interstate 30, and south of a line in Southwest Arkansas along U.S. 70, U.S. 270, Arkansas 26 and Arkansas 51 in Clark County.

The Game and Fish Commission said the limited season will help prevent overharvest and enable the growing bear population to continue to thrive in this portion of Arkansas.

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