Bear Hunting License Apps Due Today

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Friday, Jan. 16 is the deadline for bear hunters to apply for a Class A Bear Hunting License for the 2004 Wisconsin bear hunting season or to build preference points for future bear hunting license applications.

The 2004 Wisconsin bear hunting season opens Sept. 8. Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists estimate the statewide black bear population is about 12,700, and there will be 4,740 permits available for the 2004 season.

There are two changes in bear hunting for the 2004 hunting season according to Kyle LaFond, assistant state deer, bear and elk ecologist. Hunting with hounds is now allowed in the portion of Black Bear Management Zone B where it was previously restricted; and 2004 is the first season for the Youth Transfer Privilege. This transfer privilege allows the winner of a Class A bear license to give that license to a youth hunter between the ages of 12 and 17.

Because the number of hunters who apply for Class A bear licenses is far greater than the number of permits available, Wisconsin issues bear licenses under a cumulative preference system. Each time hunters apply only for a preference point or are unsuccessful in the Class A drawing, they receive one preference point. Those with the highest preference standing who apply in each Bear Hunting Zone are offered licenses first.

In 2003, more than 26,000 hunters applied for the 4,710 available permits.

To maintain preference, hunters must apply at least once every three years. The purchase of a Class B Bear License without submitting a Class A Bear Hunting License/Preference Point Application Form does not establish preference points.

There are three ways in which hunters can determine the number of preference points they have accumulated. Hunters may check preference status either by visiting the Online Licensing Center on the DNR Web site (click on the “Licenses, Permits & Registrations” button and then “hunting and fishing license sales), by contacting the Bureau of Customer Service and Licensing at (608) 266-2621, or by calling a local DNR service center.

Class A bear hunting licenses or preference point applications may be purchased on-line through the DNR Web site or through any authorized DNR license vendor. There is a $3 application fee.

“With the availability of on-line license purchasing, hunters can pay their special permit application fee, check their preference points and complete and submit their application in one on-line session,” said Marilyn Davis, director of the DNR licensing bureau.

The DNR randomly selects applicants with the highest preference standing, and will notify winners by Feb. 15. Only winners will be notified. If a hunter is notified that they’ve won, they have until April 15 to purchase their Class A Bear Hunting License or lose the harvest privilege and all preference points. All 2004 DNR licenses go on sale beginning March 10.

The Class A Bear License fee is $45 for residents and $251 for nonresidents. Hunters who apply for, and are selected to receive a Class A license, or who fail to apply at least once every three years, lose all currently accumulated preference points and start over at zero points the following year.

Hunters may also purchase a Class B Bear License ($14 for residents $110 for non-residents) that allows them to assist a Class A bear harvest license holder in hunting activities, including baiting and dog training. To assist with the bear hunt means helping a Class A license holder hunt bear by handling dogs, locating bear, or engaging in other bear hunting activities that enable the Class A licensee to locate bear. A Class B license is required of all members of a dog training group (12 years and older) if they are handling dogs, locating bear, or assisting the dog owners in locating bear, monitoring radios, trailing, placing bait, or tracking. Anyone under the age of 12 can engage in these activities without purchasing a license. Class B licenses may be purchased at any time, including through the bear hunting season.