2003 Bear Hunting Apps Due Jan. 17th
People interested in participating in the 2003 Wisconsin bear hunting season have until Jan. 17 to submit applications for bear permits.
The 2003 season runs from Sept. 3 to Oct. 7, with those hunters who hunt with dogs going first in those bear management zones open to hunting bear with dogs. The opening week of Wisconsin's bear hunting season alternates to allow those who hunt over bait to go first one year and those who hunt with aid of dogs to go first the next year.
State wildlife officials currently estimate Wisconsin's black bear population at 11,150, very near the statewide population goal of 11,300, according to Dave Evenson, acting deer and bear ecologist for the state Department of Natural Resources. As a result, he says, the 2003 harvest goal is the same or higher as 2002 in bear management zones A1, B, and C, while it dropped from 800 to 700 in zone A because that unit zone is a bit below population goal.
"In 1998 when the statewide population was quite a bit higher, we had a lot of bear nuisance and damage complaints," Evenson says. "Through cooperation with bear hunters, the bear population has been reduced to near goals, and complaints are down."
"The population goal for the state was 10,900 until last year when we raised the goal for Zone C from 800 to 1,200, making for a statewide goal of 11,300. While we found more bears in Zone C, we also found increased human tolerance for bears, so we raised the goal. Our work is paying off and we are close to having all units at goal."
Evenson says complaints are not due only to population, but also to the availability of wild food crops, increased public education and awareness, and individual bear behavior.
Bait must be inaccessible to deer
New for 2003, as a result of the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in Wisconsin's deer herd, there have been a few changes to the baiting regulations for bear hunters. Bait may only be placed between April 15 and Oct. 7, 2003, and it must be placed so that it is totally enclosed in a hollow log, hole in the ground, or stump that is capped with logs, rocks or other naturally occurring and unprocessed substances to prevent deer from accessing the material. Hunters should refer to the section on baiting in the 2003 Bear Hunting Regulation pamphlet to review these changes.
Cumulative Preference System
Class A bear licenses that allow hunters to harvest a bear (formerly called "bear harvest" permit) are issued under a cumulative preference system. Each time a hunter applies for but is unsuccessful in the drawing for a Class A license, the applicant receives one preference point. Those with the highest preference standing who apply in each Bear Hunting Zone are offered licenses first.
To maintain preference, hunters must apply at least once every three years. Hunters may also opt for "Class A License Refusal and Preference Acceptance" if they know they do not plan to hunt this year, but wish to receive a preference point.
Hunters may also purchase a Class B Bear License (formerly called a "bear pursuit" license) that allows the license holder to assist a Class A bear harvest license holder in hunting activities such as handling dogs, locating bear, or engaging in other bear hunting activities that enable the Class A licensee to locate bear. However, hunters who purchase a class B license without submitting a Class A Bear Hunting License/Preference Point Application Form will not establish preference points.
Hunters may apply for bear permits on-line, by phone or at license vendors
Hunters may apply for their bear permit in any of three ways: on-line license sales through the DNR Web site or the licenses button on the state's portal, www.wisconsin.gov), toll-free by phone at (877) 945-4236 or through any DNR Automated License Issuance System (ALIS) vendor or DNR service center. There is a $3 application fee, and hunters must complete and submit the Class A Bear Hunting License/ Preference Point Application by Jan. 17, 2003.
Hunters wishing to check their preference point total may call (608) 266-2621 or contact a DNR Service Center. In the near future, the agency plans to have a system in place where hunters can check for this information on-line.
The DNR randomly selects applicants with the highest preference standing, and will notify winners by Feb. 15. Only winners are notified. If a hunter is notified that they have won, they have until April 15 to purchase their Class A Bear Hunting License or lose the harvest privilege and all preference points. 2003 licenses don?t go on sale until March 10.
The Class A Bear License fee is $41 for residents and $201 for nonresidents.