Initial Mandatory Bear Identification Test Results

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The first five days after the new Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks mandatory bear identification training and test was available on January 15, over 1,100 certificates were issued to hunters who successfully completed the test.

Today, nearly 15,000 certificates have been issued. Of these, about 90 percent were the result of tests taken on the Internet and the remaining certificates were issued to hunters who mailed in their tests. In 2001, FWP sold about 23,000 black bear licenses.

"About 90 percent of those who take the test pass, and most people who pass miss at least one question," said Thomas Baumeister, FWP hunter education coordinator. Baumeister said this "humbling factor" is valuable from the educational standpoint because it should make the bear hunter a little more cautious. Baumeister said the intent is to impress on people if you are not sure, do not shoot.

"Surprisingly, many people have taken the time to call or write to tell us how much they appreciate the fact Montana is offering this training and testing," Baumeister said. From resident black bear hunters to the Folsom City Zoo in Folsom, California, correspondence about the bear identification training and test has been overwhelmingly positive.

Hunters have two options for receiving the training and taking the test. On the Internet, a hunter may go to FWP's web site at fwp.state.mt.us (click on the bear image to open the test). Every FWP regional office and some area offices have computers in the lobby for hunters who may not have a computer at home. Certificates can be printed from the Internet when the hunter passes the test. Or, hunters may request a mail-in test from any FWP regional office or by writing to: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Bear Test, 1420 East Sixth Ave., P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701. Certificates are mailed to individuals who successfully complete the mail-in test.

The new identification program is intended to prevent mistaken identity killings of federally protected grizzly bears and to help Montana maintain its black bear hunting season. The bear identification test consists of 15 multiple-choice questions and a training program. The test may be retaken until the individual achieves a passing grade of 80 percent. The test needs to be passed only once; recertification is not required.