New Program Allows Transfer of Bear Permits to Young Hunters

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Nearly 34,000 hunters applied for the 4,740 available Class A bear hunting permits available for 2004, making it one of the most coveted hunting permits available in Wisconsin, with waits of six to eight years to receive a permit the norm.

Yet 122 successful applicants readily gave up their permits this year in order to allow a young hunter the privilege of participating in his or her first bear hunt, under a new program to provide additional hunting opportunities to young people in Wisconsin.

2004 marks the first occasion that a recipient of a class A bear hunting authorization could transfer that authority to a youth hunter between the ages of 12 and 17, according to Kyle LaFond, assistant deer and bear ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources.

“The Wisconsin Bear Hunter’s Association is largely responsible for the development of the youth transfer program to give young hunters an opportunity that would have otherwise never been available to young people because of years it takes to receive a permit,” LaFond says.

In order to have a permit transferred to them, a youth must have completed a hunter education course and be at least 12 years old at the beginning of the season or turn 12 during the season. The bear hunting season began Sept. 8 and runs through Oct. 12. A minor may only be transferred a Class A Bear License once. The transfer of a license does not affect the number of preference points that the minor may have previously acquired. Both residents and non-residents may transfer or receive a Class A Bear License.

“The outlook is outstanding for a safe and successful season, with the bear population very healthy throughout most of its range,” La Fond says.

Wisconsin issues two types of bear hunting licenses. A Class A Bear License (formerly called a Bear Harvest Permit) allows the license holder to kill a bear. A Class B Bear License (formerly called a Bear Pursuit Permit) allows the license holder to assist the recipient of a Class A Permit, but does not allow the holder to shoot, shoot at, or kill a bear.

The state uses a cumulative preference system for issuing Class A Bear Licenses, under which applicants can build preference points over a number of years, and those with the highest points are awarded Class A licenses. The transferor of a license does lose the preference points that they accumulated.

Hunters who are successful in receiving a Class A License who wish to transfer it to a youth must do so before the August 1st immediately preceding the bear season. Transfer applications are available at DNR Service Centers or on the DNR Web site.