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Wisconsin bear harvest permits to increase 22 percent

From the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

-- Wisconsin wildlife biologists have upped the number of available black bear harvest permits by 22 percent over 2009.

A population research study cooperative effort between the University, the DNR and the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association indicated that the state’s bear population was higher than previously thought.

Accordingly, wildlife officials increased permit levels last year based on the increased population estimate and have done so again for the 2010 bear hunting season.

With a new population estimate of about 22,000 bears, and a current state bear population goal of 13,000 bears, biologists at the Department of Natural Resources have established a 2010 harvest quota of 5,235 bears and will issue 8,910 permits.

The deadline to have applied for a 2010 bear permit was Dec. 10, 2009. The drawing for permits will be conducted this week and successful applicants will be notified by mid February.

“This level of harvest should begin to nudge the state’s bear population toward established goals,” said Keith Warnke, DNR deer and bear ecologist. “This is something we want to approach responsibly and not overshoot until we have had time to run a repeat of the population study to verify the first set of findings and evaluate bear population goals.”

More than 32,000 hunters applied for the 7,310 permits that were issued for the 2009 season. That season resulted in a record harvest of 3,907 bears (based on preliminary harvest numbers).

The permit breakdown for Zone A is 3,470 permits; for Zone B, 1,440 permits; for Zone C, 2,430 permits; and for Zone D, 1,570 permits. The 2010 bear hunting season runs Sept. 8 through Oct. 12.

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