Statewide, the hunting success rate is about 40 percent, and last year hunters in Northwestern Wisconsin enjoyed a 60 percent success rate, said Greg Kessler, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist at Brule.
Wisconsin’s bear population is estimated at more than 28,000. The state’s bear season opens Sept. 7, and various time periods allow hunting with bait, with dogs or both.
More than 109,000 hunters applied for the state’s 11,520 harvest permits this year. The wait to get a harvest permit can be as long as eight or nine years, depending on the bear management zone.
Bayfield and Douglas counties are usually among the the leaders statewide for numbers of bears taken each fall.
“Bayfield has been in the top two almost every year, and Douglas is typically ranked in the top five,” Kessler said. “Bayfield and Douglas counties ranked No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, for total bear harvest in 2015.”
Kessler said hunters should expect success to be similar this fall. Acorns do not appear to be as plentiful in 2016 as they were last year, and that should result in slightly higher success rates, he said. Blackberries and hazelnut crops were good in many areas but will be mostly consumed by fall hunting season and should not affect bear hunting success, Kessler said.
“Overall, hunters should have plenty of opportunity, with reports of good numbers of bears but of somewhat smaller average size this year,” Kessler said.