Missouri’s first-ever bear hunt is drawing plenty of interest..

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday that 6,335 people applied for one of the 400 permits the Missouri Department of Conservation will issue for a harvest of 40 bears.

Winners of a random drawing of eligible applicants will be determined by July 1. The black bear hunting will be allowed Oct. 18-27. It was approved earlier this year by the Missouri Conservation Commission.

The bear population in Missouri has been growing. Officials now estimate there are 600 to 1,000 black bears in the state.