To Reduce Bear-Human Interactions, DNR Will Permit More Hunting

State Will increase Bear Hunting Quota In Northwestern Wisconsin

The increase in bear-human interactions in part of the state has already led to significant injury. Photo: Daniel Arndt (CC-BY-NC-SA).

The Department of Natural Resources has increased the number of bear hunting permits for northwestern Wisconsin in an attempt to reduce the number of their interactions with people.

The DNR says far northwestern Wisconsin’s black bear population has become saturated, which has led to more conflicts between bears and people. Mike Zeckmeister, the northern region program manager with the DNR in Spooner, said the southern portion of what they call Zone Dwhich includes Barron, Burnett, Polk and Washburn countieshas had bears damage crops, tip over garbage cans and engage in “breaking and entering.”

“We’ve heard several reports of somebody sleeping in the middle of the night, and they hear something downstairs and they think it’s their teenager getting a snack, and they go downstairs and they see a bear that’s opened the refrigerator door,” said Zeckmeister.

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Even though bears usually aren’t aggressive towards people, Zeckmeister said that too much interaction can be dangerous.

“Last year, unfortunately, we had a very serious bear encounter with an individual right outside of Shell Lake, and the person ended up being seriously injured by a bear,” he said.

To better control the population in these counties, the DNR has increased the number of bear hunting permits allowed for in Zone D. Zeckmeister said he hopes hunters can make a dent.

The quota for Zone D in northwestern Wisconsin is 1,600 bears. The DNR said it will examine its overall bear management system in coming months.