Preliminary registration numbers show hunters harvested 3,685 black bears during the 2018 Wisconsin bear hunting seasons, a decrease of 11% from the 4,136 black bears harvested in 2017.

“Wisconsin’s bear population remains healthy and the 2018 season provided hunters excellent opportunities to share time in the woods with family and friends,” said Scott Walter, large carnivore specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“The slight decline in harvest this year was to some extent expected as we reduced the harvest quota in three of our four bear management zones to achieve population management goals,” explained Walter.

While reports from hunters during the season were varied, hunter success was very similar to previous years across most of the state, with more than half of hunters in most areas harvesting a bear. Zone C, which includes central and southern Wisconsin, saw just more than half the quota harvested, with 9% of hunters registering bears.

“Data provided by hunters through registration really serves as the backbone of our bear population management process and we appreciate their commitment to sound, science-based management,” said Walter.

Zone-specific preliminary registration information in­cludes: Zone A, 1,179 bears harvested, 94% of quota, 53% success rate; Zone B, 667 bears harvested, 83% of quota, 56% success rate; Zone C, 66 bears harvested, 55% of quota, 9% success rate; and Zone D, 1,178 bears harvested, 91% of quota, 51% success rate.

Interest in black bear hunting continues to in­crease in Wisconsin, with more than 124,000 hunters applying for either a harvest permit or preference point for the 2018 season.

“With participation in many forms of hunting on the decline, the passion Wisconsin bear hunters have for our bear resource, the hunting experience and for introducing new hunters to the outdoors is wonderful to see,” said Walter. “Now is definitely an exciting time for Wisconsin’s bear program. We’ve got new population monitoring tools in development, an extremely engaged community of bear hunters, and a healthy and expanding bear population.”

For more information regarding black bears and bear hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov.