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Deadline near for bear/turkey hunt permits

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds black bear and wild turkey hunters the 2021 season application deadline is before midnight on Dec. 10.

Hunters can purchase applications for permit drawings at or through an authorized license agent. Consider inviting others who may not usually participate in these seasons to apply and find an adventure in Wisconsin.

Harvest numbers from the 2020 black bear season are not finalized. Preliminary estimates show that hunters harvested more than 4,100 bears. DNR staff and the Bear Advisory Committee are currently determining 2021 harvest quotas.

Due to the high level of interest in this hunt, bear hunters must apply for several years before receiving a permit through the drawing process for most bear management zones. Bear permit applicants must apply at least once during any period of three consecutive years to retain their accumulated preference points, or all accumulated preference points will be lost.

If the hunter is selected in the drawing, their preference points will be reset to zero, even if they do not purchase the harvest permit. It is the applicant’s responsibility to be aware of drawing status. Applicants selected in the drawing will be notified by mail shortly after the drawing and may purchase their 2021 Class A bear license beginning in March 2021. Applicants may also check their status online through their Go Wild customer account.

Applicants are reminded of the new bear management zone boundaries, as their usual hunting grounds may change to a new unit start date in 2021. There will likely be no significant changes across zones A, B, C and D; however, harvest permit wait times could fluctuate. The new zones are part of the Wisconsin Black Bear Management Plan, 2019-2029, developed by the DNR Bear Advisory Committee and approved by the Natural Resources Board in May 2019. The new bear management zones are designed to address bear conflicts and manage desired population levels effectively.

The season structure for the 2021 bear hunt is as follows: Zone C, E and F (dogs not permitted): Sept. 8 to Oct. 12 - with the aid of bait and all other legal methods not using dogs.

Zone A, B, and D: Sept. 8-14 – with the aid of dogs only; Sept. 15 to Oct. 5 - with all legal methods, including bait and dogs; Sept. 6-12 - with the aid of bait, with all other methods not using dogs For more information on bear hunting in Wisconsin, visit the DNR bear hunting webpage here.

Dec.10 is also the deadline to apply for a spring turkey harvest authorization (previously known as a tag or permit). Turkey harvest authorizations are issued through a preference-based drawing system. For more information on the turkey preference drawing, see Turkey Frequently Asked Questions.

Applicants may choose up to two time period and zone combinations that they would like to hunt. As a third choice, applicants may choose one zone in which they will accept a harvest authorization for any period. This third choice can be the same zone as the first and/or second choice. The second and third choices are optional, but applicants are encouraged to provide second and third choices to maximize their likelihood of drawing a harvest authorization.

Successful applicants will be notified by mail after the drawing results are finalized.

Unsuccessful applicants will receive a preference point that will increase their chances of drawing a harvest authorization the following spring season. Hunters can check their application status online through Go Wild.

Any harvest authorizations not awarded in the drawing will be available for purchase as bonus harvest authorizations starting March 15, 2021. Bonus harvest authorizations will cost $10 for residents and $15 for nonresidents.

All turkey hunters must possess a valid spring turkey license and wild turkey stamp when they acquire their spring turkey harvest authorization. A 2020 spring turkey license is $15 for Wisconsin residents and $60 for non-residents. The 2020 wild turkey stamp is $5.25.

The 2021 spring turkey season is as follows: -- Youth Hunt - April 17 - 18; -- Period A - April 21 - 27; -- Period B - April 28 -May 4; -- Period C – May 5 - 11; -- Period D - May 12 - 17; -- Period E - May 19 - May 25; and -- Period F – May 26 -June 1.