- Whether you're a hunter or wildlife lover, the DNR aims to provide the best environment for wild animals in the Northwoods.
Part of that work is conducting popluation surveys.
DNR scientists wade into Wisconsin's Primary Bear Range to survey the popluation.
Wildlife Biologist Jeremy Holtz says,
"The survey was started so that we'd have some sort of index that our employees could do that's standardized across the state. That would give us some idea of what the bear population was."
Holtz says the method of counting bears is quite simple, not to mention a treat for the bears, "We hang a bag of fat every half mile on a soft barked tree. What we're doing is we're evaluating whether a bear station was visited or not."
Each visit by a bear is called a "Hit," which means a bear leaves a sign on the tree like clawmarks, or an empty bait bag on the ground.
Scientists do this every year in late June because it gives them the most precise results, "Bears have territories that they defend this time of year because it's their mating season, their reproduction season. So a lot of times one bear won't cross into another bear's territory."
The Primary Bear Range in Wisconsin stretches across the state north of Highway 64.
2011 results show a little under 14,000 bears here in the Northwoods, which equates to about two per square mile.
Statewide results show 23,500 bears in 2011.
Although the number seems high, Holtz says bears are still quite sneaky around humans, "Actually it's a treat to see a bear. Basically we get all excited about it, try to take a picture if we can. We usually get a blurry picture of the back end of a bear."
With over two decades of data recorded, the DNR is painting quite a clear picture, bears are definitley roaming our neck of the woods.
Please check out the complete survey from 2011 below, plus you can review the state's bear zones yourself.
WI DNR Bear Population Map
Full Bear Survey Results from 2011