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9,000 permits available for Wisconsin black bear season

From the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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

A bear population study completed in 2008 estimates the state's bear population at 22,000. DNR biologists set the recommended 2011 harvest quota at 5,235 bears, the same as last year's quota.

The quota is based on the population estimate, the state's bear population goal of 13,000, hunter success rates, harvest, bait station visitation rates, nuisance complaints, agricultural damage and public input.

Wisconsin's preliminary 2010 black bear harvest total at 5,056 is expected to change slightly in coming weeks as harvest data is 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.

Successful permit applicants should receive notification by mail by Feb. 15.  Learn more about how to apply for a bear license.

Nearly 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.

"This level of harvest should continue last season's successful progress in nudging the state's bear population toward established goals," according to bear biologist Linda Olver.  "We want to approach this responsibly and not overshoot until we have had time to run a repeat of the 2008 population study to verify the first findings and evaluate bear population goals."

Another bear population study begins this spring.  As part of the study, the DNR is asking successful bear hunters to 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.
"Bear hunters who submit samples are directly contributing to bear research required to properly manage Wisconsin's bear population," Olver said.

The permit breakdown by zone includes Zone A with 3,465 permits, Zone B with 1,510 permits, Zone C with 2,550 permits, and Zone D with 1,480 permits. The 2011 bear hunting season runs Sept. 7 through Oct. 11.

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