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Wisconsin hunters could see big bear harvest this year

Wisconsin's black bear hunting season opened Wednesday, and this year hunters using hounds will have exclusive hunting for the first week of the season in zones where hunting bear with dogs is allowed (A,B and D).

Wisconsin's black bear hunting season opened Wednesday, and this year hunters using hounds will have exclusive hunting for the first week of the season in zones where hunting bear with dogs is allowed (A,B and D).

In Zone C, roughly the area south of U.S. 8 in western Wisconsin and Highway 64 in eastern Wisconsin, hunting bear with dogs is not permitted, so bait hunters could start Wednesday.

The season lasts through Oct. 11.

State wildlife biologists say bears are thriving and continuing to explore new territories.

The state Department of Natural Resources issued 9,005 bear hunting permits this year. The harvest quota is 5,235 bears, the same as last year.

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Successful hunters are required to submit a bear tooth and 2-inch piece of bear rib at the time of registration, as part of a two-year bear population study. The study's results will be combined with those compiled during a similar study conducted from 2006 to 2008 that provided the scientific basis required to increase bear harvest permits.

"Excitement is high among the bear hunters I have spoken with," said Linda Olver, DNR bear biologist. "Many have submitted trail camera photos of bear visiting their baiting sites, and there are some pretty impressive bear out there. Whether or not we have a season like 2010, when a new bear harvest record was set and at least three 700-pound bears were registered, remains to be seen, but the potential is there."

Last year there were 2,430 permits available in Zone C, and hunters killed 809 bears for a 33 percent success rate. The kill figure was the highest in Zone C since the season framework was started in 1986, said Kris Belling, district wildlife supervisor for the DNR West Central District.

-- Copyright © 2011, The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram/Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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