Black Bear Season is Approaching in the Great Lakes Region: Here’s What You Need to Know

Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager

Highlights

  • As we inch closer to the most active time in the year for hunters, sportsmen and women in the Upper Midwest are gearing up for the 2021 black bear hunting seasons.
  • There have been several regulation changes in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin hunters should be aware of, including dates, bait regulations, method of take in Michigan and a new six zone format in Wisconsin.
  • Bear hunting is a valuable wildlife management tool that is implemented to control the bear population and reduce human-wildlife conflicts, and it serves as an important role in the American System of Conservation Funding.        

Why it matters: Bear hunting in the north woods is a time-honored tradition and important management method for state fish and wildlife agencies. As sportsmen and women head afield, it is of the utmost importance that they remain up-to-date on new and revised regulations. To comply with all fish and wildlife regulations, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation encourages hunters and anglers to check their state and local regulations prior to the respective seasons.

In the Great Lakes States of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, bear season is quickly approaching; however, there have been a numerous change to certain regulations in some of these states. Here’s what you need to know:

Michigan: There have been some changes to the bear season dates in Michigan. Season dates differ for each unit, and you can reference the MI Black Bear Digest to find your respective unit’s information.  In addition, there is now an archery-only season in the Baldwin and Gladwin bear management units and will run from October 8-14. However, the biggest regulation change in the Great Lakes State comes in the form of baiting. Bait barrels will no longer be allowed on DNR-managed lands. The state did hold a pilot program for the 2019 and 2020 season where bait barrels were allowed. This method may still be used on private land.

Minnesota: Not much has changed in the North Start State. Coming off a record year, the 2020 bear season in Minnesota saw a 13-year high in bear harvests – 32% higher than 2019. Here are some useful links if you plan to bear hunt in Minnesota: Bear Hunting Regulations, Bear Bait Registration Form.

Wisconsin: The Wisconsin bear season runs from September 8 through October 12. The Badger State will see the addition of the new six zone format. This new format is designed to maintain a healthy and sustainable black bear population in the state while addressing an increase in bear nuisance reports. The quota for this year has been raised to 4,440 black bears – a 22% increase from the previous year’s quota due to a significant increase in Wisconsin’s overall black bear population.  In 1989 Wisconsin had an estimated 9,000 bears, whereas today it is estimated around 24,000.   

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation encourages all sportsmen and women to check their state’s regulations before heading out to fill their tags. Please check back with us for more updates on regulation changes and the fall draws closer.

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