Bear permits remain same

More than 9,000 permits will be available for the 2011 black bear season, about the same as last year.

Natural Resources Board members approved at their Jan. 26 meeting a level of 9,005 permits, nearly identical to the 2010 permit offering of 8,910.

A bear population study completed in 2008 estimates a Wisconsin bear population of at least 22,000. DNR biologists set the recommended 2011 harvest quota at 5,235 bears, which is the same as 2010’s quota. That quota is based on the population estimate, the state’s bear population goal of 13,000, hunter success rates, bait station visitation rates, nuisance complaints, agricultural damage, and public input.

“This level of harvest should continue last season’s successful progress at nudging the state’s bear population toward established goals,” DNR bear ecologist Linda Olver said. “This is something we want to approach responsibly and not overshoot until we have had time to run a repeat of the 2008 population study to verify the first set of findings and evaluate bear population goals.”

A repeat of the 2008 population study will begin in spring 2011. As part of this study, the DNR is requesting that successful bear hunters submit one pre-molar tooth and a two-inch piece of rib from the bear they harvest. The success of the population study relies on the bear tooth and rib samples submitted by hunters during the next two bear seasons.

Wisconsin’s preliminary 2010 black bear harvest total stands at 5,056. This number is expected to change only slightly as harvest data are fully entered and verified. Black bear harvests have averaged roughly 3,000 from 1998 through 2008 when quotas were based on a lower estimated bear population. In 2009, harvest increased to just over 4,000 bears when permit levels increased 57 percent. In 2010, permit levels increased an additional 22 percent.

The annual drawing for black bear harvest permits is expected to take place this week and successful permit applicants should receive notification by mail by February 15.

Just under 28,000 hunters have applied for the 9,005 permits available for the 2011 season. An additional 76,064 applied for a preference point only.

The permit breakdown by zone for 2011 is as follows: Zone A 3,465 permits; Zone B 1,510 permits: Zone C 2,550 permits; and Zone D 1,480 permits. The 2011 bear hunting season runs Sept. 7 through Oct. 11.

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