Wisconsin Looking At Lower Bear Harvest

Wisconsin DNR, Bear Hunting Magazine

Final bear harvest numbers will be released in a few weeks, but preliminary information released by the Wisconsin DNR looks to show that hunters in the state took around 10% to 20% fewer bears in the 2011 season.

The Wisconsin DNR received 4,064 complete bear harvest forms and tissue samples. Several hundred other registrations were received with tooth and rib samples but no harvest registration form. The DNR requested the tissue samples as part of a bear population study. As a result of the incomplete registration forms, the DNR lists 4,508 as the expected total number.

In either case, the 2011 harvest will fall short of the record 5,133 bears registered by hunters in 2010. The Wisconsin DNR is investigating the reason for the incomplete registration paperwork and would likely come up with a modified process for 2012.

The DNR had issued a record 9,005 kill permits for the 2011 season. State wildlife managers estimate the Wisconsin bear population at 25,000 to 40,000, one of the largest populations of the species in the nation.

But, they feel the numbers may be decreasing, so the Wisconsin DNR Bear Management Committee met last week and lowered the 2012 statewide bear harvest quota to 4,600. It was 5,235 this year. The number of bear hunting permits available for 2012 will be determined in the coming weeks.

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