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Wisconsin applications for 2012 bear permits to increase

From Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

-- A little more than 9,000 bear harvest permits will be available for the 2012 black bear season, about the same number of permits as last year.

The 2012 bear hunting season runs Sept. 5 through Oct. 9.

The Natural Resources Board approved offering 9,015 harvest permits at its Jan. 25 meeting, a number nearly identical to the last year’s permit offering of 9,005, according to Kevin Wallenfang, big game ecologist.

A bear population study completed in 2008 estimated a Wisconsin bear population of at least 22,000. State biologists set the recommended 2012 harvest goal at 4,600 bears.

Approximately 27,000 hunters have applied for the 9,015 permits available for the 2012 season. An additional 77,598 applied for a preference point only. Successful permit applicants should receive notification by mail in late February.

“We would like to accommodate as many hunters as we can,” Wallenfang said. “This is something we must approach responsibly and not over-hunt until we have another year of research under our belts. We need to verify earlier findings and evaluate bear population goals. Until then, we will take a cautious approach issuing permits at a level we feel will maintain the population at current levels.”

A repeat of the 2008 mark-recapture population study began in spring 2011. Bears were marked when baits with tetracycline were placed in prime bear range.

Tetracycline is a harmless antibiotic that deposits a marker in bones when consumed. To fulfill the recapture part of the study, successful bear hunters must submit one pre-molar tooth and a two-inch piece of rib from the bear they harvest. The samples are analyzed for the presence of tetracycline. The success of the population study relies on the bear tooth and rib samples submitted by hunters.

Wisconsin’s preliminary 2011 black bear harvest total stands at 4,246. This number is expected to change only slightly in coming weeks as harvest data entries are completed and verified. Black bear harvests averaged roughly 3,000 from 1998 through 2008 when quotas were based on a lower estimated bear population.

In 2009, harvest increased to more than 4,000 bears when permit levels increased 57 percent. Permit levels in 2010 increased an additional 22 percent, while permits levels in 2011 remained about the same as in 2010.

Applicants currently need to have collected between four and nine preference points to successfully draw a bear harvest permit. Hunters can check their preference point status, by calling Customer Service and Licensing at (888)936-7463, by contacting a local DNR Service Center, or online at

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