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Important changes to 2021 bear season application; application period delayed

The bear application period for the 2021 bear hunting season is delayed due to legislative review. The application period which normally opens in March will open shortly after the legislative review process is complete at a date to be determined.

The 2021 bear application deadline remains Dec. 10, 2020. Applicants are reminded to be aware of the new bear management zone boundaries as their hunting grounds may change to a new unit in 2021. It is not known precisely how these changes will specifically affect harvest permit wait times, but there will likely be no significant changes across zones A, B, C and D.

The Wisconsin Black Bear Management Plan 2019-29 was developed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bear Advisory Committee and approved by the Natural Resources Board in May 2019. Among the changes are new zones ( documents/BMZ_2021.pdf) which must undergo a legislative review. The new bear management zones are designed to address bear conflicts and manage desired population levels effectively.

“Wisconsin continues to be one of the premier black bear hunting states in the nation, with ample public hunting lands and a robust bear population,” said Matt Gross, DNR assistant big game ecologist. “As such, the extent of bear range has steadily expanded further south into the central forest and beyond. The new zones will allow management decisions to address both the opportunities and challenges that can arise with an expanding bear population.”

If you would like to hunt black bear in Wisconsin, you must possess a Class A bear license. You may obtain a Class A bear license by:

_ Being selected in the bear drawing.

_ Participating in the Learn to Bear Hunt Program

_ Receiving a Class A bear license transfer via the Awarded Permit Transfers Program or the Deceased Customer Preference Approval Transfer.

Applications are required for a Class A license or to receive a preference point. Hunters must apply at least once during a period of three consecutive years otherwise all previously accumulated preference points will be lost.

Wisconsin bear hunting is popular, and more people apply each year than the number of licenses available. For 2020, over 119,000 hunters applied for a permit or a preference point for 11,535 available permits.