Bear Harvest for 2004

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The bear harvest in Northeastern Minnesota was better than the 10-year average, but well below the high harvests of 1995 and 2001. Hunter success depends a great deal on food supplies. With good natural food supplies, hunters have more difficulty attracting bears to bait. Generally hunter success was better in the northern part of the region.

Minnesota has between 20,000 and 30,000 bears - at least three times what the population was in the early 1980s. In 1971, Minnesota designated the black bear as a big-game animal and held its first bear-hunting season. Bear numbers began to increase after 1982, when the DNR restricted harvest with a quota system. That system allows wildlife managers to adjust hunting pressure to either allow bear numbers to increase, and thus provide more future hunting opportunities, or to reduce numbers where bears become bothersome.

Even though bear numbers have been stable since 1997, the statewide harvest has fluctuated from a low of 1,915 to a high of 4,936. In Northeastern Minnesota, the total harvest was 2,280 out of 9,410 permits issued. The record high was 2,996 bears in 1995. (See chart.)

This year's bear hunt was September 1 through October 17. Total permits in 2004 was 16,450.