While Mississippi wild hog populations are skyrocketing, black bear populations are slowly increasing. Both hogs and bear can be found in the same habitats and both can appear as dark objects somewhat similar in shape and size. Mississippi landowners and hunters can get conditioned to seeing dark objects in dense vegetation and immediately identifying them as hogs.
Black bears are protected in Mississippi. Shooting a bear, even accidentally, can carry penalties of up $100,000 in fines, possible jail time, and loss of hunting privileges. This seems pretty harsh for an “accident”, but it emphasizes the importance of protecting bears and identifying your target with 100% certainty before pulling the trigger. Between 2011 and 2014, at least three black bears were accidentally shot in Mississippi by people trying to do a good thing – shoot wild hogs.
For these reasons, BEaR, in partnership with MDWFP, launched the “Know Your Target” education campaign beginning in September 2014. The campaign consisted of statewide billboards, magazine ads, newspaper articles, direct mailings to hunt clubs, signs provided to landowners and hunt clubs, a featured ad within the Mississippi Hunting and Fishing Outdoor Digest, and many other educational contacts.
The Know Your Target campaign was considered a huge success and that success was evidenced by no accidental harvest of a bear in Mississippi since its beginning. BEaR is continuing the campaign again this fall to make sure that when hunting in Mississippi, everyone knows it is always imperative to … KNOW YOUR TARGET!