The hunters asked, and The Missouri Department of Conservation listened. In early September of 2020, at the Conservation Commission meeting in Jefferson City, Missouri, a vote changed the regulations regarding coyote hunting and feral hog in Missouri. As of November 30, 2020, new regulations have gone into effect in the Show-Me State.
The change comes in response to Missouri citizens' request to the Regulations Committee to use night vision, infrared, thermal imagery equipment, and artificial light to hunt coyotes. It also allows landowners to grant their authorized representatives the use of night vision, infrared, or thermal imagery equipment without prior approval from a conservation agent to address damage caused by feral hogs.
For several years, hunters have only been allowed to hunt during daylight hours, and the use of any artificial light has been prohibited. However, the revised regulations allow landowners who own property of any size and their authorized representatives to possess, control and use night vision, infrared, and thermal imagery equipment to kill feral hogs on the landowner's property.
With these new regulations in place, hunters and landowners will work together to manage feral hogs' rapid growth in Missouri. For the past decade, Missouri's feral hog population has been a heavily debated subject among hunters, landowners, and the Missouri Department of Conservation.
The methods of hunting feral hogs have witnessed changes. The department's efforts of feral hog control have increased in the recent past with various trapping efforts. Yet, the need to eliminate feral hogs is still crucial. Giving the hunter more opportunities to pursue feral hogs with lights and thermals will help control efforts where previous tactics have failed.
The second part of the recently changed regulations will allow properly licensed hunters to use artificial light, night vision, infrared, or thermal imagery equipment in conjunction with other legal hunting methods to pursue and take coyotes from February 1 through March 31. Giving predator hunters and, again, landowners the chance to work together to help control unwanted predators' population on their property. The new two month period of hunting will begin February 1, 2021.
The Missouri Department of Conservation notes that property owners and their representatives can still use night vision, infrared, thermal imaging equipment, or artificial light to kill coyotes or other wildlife causing property damage at any time of the year with written authorization from a conservation agent.
As a lifetime resident of Missouri and as an avid predator hunter for many years, I am very excited about the new changes that the Missouri Department of Conservation has implemented for this coming year. I genuinely feel that the Conservation Commission listened to Missouri's citizens and gave them what they wanted and what the state needed as well. The benefits that landowners, hunters, and the sport of predator hunting will gain from these changes will be extraordinary.
The first to reap the benefits of the new changes is the landowners themselves. One of the main reasons I predator hunt is to aid wildlife by controlling predators that, besides humans, have no other natural predator to control the population. I also enjoy predator hunting to assist livestock owners who need help controlling predators that may risk harming or evening killing their livestock. With the new laws in place for Missouri, a concerned landowner with problems can legally have someone like myself help them control predators. The hunter will have more opportunities to hunt as long as they have written permission from a Missouri Department of Conservation agent and the landowner themselves.
As was briefly mentioned, the second benefit is the hunter having more opportunities to get out and pursue predators for an extended period. The winter months of the year, especially February and March, are some of the best times for predator hunters. The coyote breeding season usually occurs during the last part of January, throughout February, and into early March. During this time, hunters want to spend as much time in the field as possible. However, sometimes due to a job or other priorities, only hunting daylight hours leaves little time to pursue that passion. It gets dark early with daylight savings time, leaving little or no time for those who work throughout the day. Now, with this extended period to hunt, more hunters will get an opportunity to hunt.
More time and opportunities for hunters to be able to be out in the field is always good for the sport of hunting. There is a separate passion that is felt by night hunters. It delivers a different type of adrenaline rush for the hunter. With these new laws in effect, perhaps more people will try it, creating new passions, new memories, and more opportunities to help landowners and livestock owners in the process. All that together, without a doubt, equals success for the sport of hunting.