Samantha Bruegger: Time for state to end spring bear hunts

Sun., March 13, 2022

Samantha Bruegger

By Samantha Bruegger

“Mama Bear” is a popular slogan on sweatshirts and bumper stickers, because many mothers, like me, identify with the ferocity with which a “Mama Bear” will protect her cubs.

Management of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife cannot relate; it denigrates empathy for animals, or concern for their ethical treatment, as “emotional” and “unscientific.” To department management, our wildlife exists only to be “harvested,” whenever and however hunters choose.

This disregard for ethical mores explains the department’s recommendation that the Fish and Wildlife Commission reverse the decision it made last fall, and approve a permanent spring hunting season to allow hunters to target bears when they are weak, slow and easy to kill. Experts agree spring bear hunts inevitably kill nursing mothers and leave orphaned cubs to die, which is one reason they are supported by only 15% of the population in Western states.

In past years, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has recognized ethical concerns with spring hunts, but claimed they were necessary to prevent timber damage, boost prey populations and reduce human conflict. But management has now acknowledged that it cannot support these assertions and its science does not show any “need” for a spring bear hunt.

But instead of reconsidering the hunt, the department shifted seamlessly to defending it as an important “recreational opportunity,” because a fraction of a percentage of Washingtonians (including Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind) have fun killing bears in spring. For management, any ethical concerns are vanquished by the loud demands of this tiny group.

To placate opponents, the latest version of the spring bear hunt rule includes a toothless provision making it illegal to kill cubs or sows with cubs. This is an empty gesture. As Game Division Manager Anis Aoude admits, it is extremely difficult for hunters to identify the sex of a bear, or determine whether a sow has cubs stashed up a nearby tree. In the past, the department opposed such a ban as unenforceable.

Management has also declared that hunters killed only one nursing mother during the 2021 spring hunt, a shaky claim given the significant issues with the department’s first attempt to determine lactation status from bear hides, which were sometimes folded, frozen and days old. This figure is not only improbable, but a poor basis to predict future results. Based on population data, biologists estimate roughly 16 of the 45 sows killed during spring 2021 were likely to have been nursing cubs, and they would have left behind an estimated 36 orphans.

This use of fuzzy science is not an isolated event. Department biologists are finishing a multiyear project to determine bear densities, which has revealed that the state bear population is significantly lower than previously thought. The Department of Fish and Wildlife ignored this science in 2019, when it approved a longer summer/fall bear hunting season with increased “bag limits” – a change that resulted in a 50% increase in the number of reported kills. The department admits it is “unclear” how these changes affected the bear population. But that has not stopped management from recommending a permanent spring hunt, which will target bears without considering local bear density, accounting for damage from recent wildfires, or using best available science to gauge harm to local populations.

I wish this was a surprise. But department employees have long complained about management’s selective use of facts and science. Last year’s state audit reiterated these concerns, quoting one employee saying: “Senior staff feel they get to decide what information is important to incorporate. It blows my mind that it’s your job to provide this information, but they don’t use it, they throw it away. And that is pervasive.”

I admit I have an “emotional” reaction to the killing of “Mama Bears” and the orphaning of their cubs. I don’t apologize for that. The ability to empathize with others, including other species, is part of our humanity. But I’m more concerned about the ecological havoc being wrecked by the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s unscientific war on carnivores. As the department warns in its Game Management Plan, bear populations are “especially sensitive to over-exploitation,” and by the time we detect a decline, it could take up to 15 years for them to recover.

The commission votes on the new spring bear hunt proposal on Saturday. Will it hold the brave stance it took last fall and end the unscientific and unethical spring hunt? Or will it return to rubber-stamping of the department’s recommendations? I certainly hope the former will be true, so we can stop spring bear hunting in Washington once and for all.

Samantha Bruegger, of Brewster, Washington, is the executive director of Washington Wildlife First.

Sick trophy hunter poses with slaughtered polar bear as Ricky Gervais demands ban

Sick hunter poses with slaughtered polar bear

Sick hunter poses with slaughtered polar bear

ByChris McLaughlinPolitical reporter

  • 21:00, 30 Oct 2021
  • UPDATED21:03, 30 Oct 2021
  • |

Telly star Ricky Gervais today calls for an immediate UK ban on importing hunt trophies.

PM Boris Johnson pledged two years ago to stop the vile practice but a law has been delayed.

This sickening picture of a shot polar bear is being projected by campaigners at Glasgow’s COP26 climate summit today.

Ricky said: “We need to stop trophy hunting now.”

Boris Johnson ’s promised ban on the import of hunting trophies is STILL not law – two years after he pledged it.

The delay flies in the face of desperate pleas from celebrities, politicians and campaigners to save species like polar bears from callous hunters – as well as climate change.

Do you agree? Have your say in the comment sectionRicky Gervais: ‘Trophy hunters are animal serial killers – we need to stop these sick sadists’


TV star Ricky Gervais, writing exclusively to the Sunday People as the COP 26 climate summit starts in Glasgow today, said: “Polar bears could be wiped off the face of the earth by climate change.

“But they are also being wiped out by people who want their skins or want their heads above the fireplace.”

Ricky, 60, creator and star of comedies The Office and Extras, added: “They should do prison time.”

Polar bear hunt pic projected on to building in Glasgow

Polar bear hunt pic projected on to building in Glasgow

Downton Abbey star Peter Egan, 75, said: “Tens of millions of animals have been slaughtered for so-called sport and souvenirs. What more is needed for the Government to take this seriously?”

The photo of a hunter and shot polar bear – taken in north-west Canada and used by hunt firms to promote tours – is being projected on buildings at COP26 by anti-hunt campaigners.

And the Prime Minster is being challenged by MPs to explain why legislation has been put on hold amid fears it will be watered down.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 05: Ricky Gervais attends the Netflix 2020 Golden Globes After Party at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 05, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California

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Over 50 have signed a Commons motion calling for a ban on importing hunt trophies as soon as possible – a tribute to Sir David Amess, the MP and ardent animal right campaigner who was fatally knifed this month.

Two years ago Mr Johnson declared: “This barbaric practice must end.”

As well as polar bears, the ban would cover trophies from lions, zebra, elephants, rhinos, leopards, hippos, giraffes and other threatened species.Bloodthirsty lion hunter who killed majestic pride leader Mopane finally tracked down


Fury as British hunters offered ‘cynical’ 20% off to kill African big game on safaris


But legislation has been postponed to allow more consultations.

Details of the Animals Abroad Bill were expected before the Commons summer recess but publication has been postponed three times.

Tory MP Pauline Latham, who will lead a Commons debate this week, said: “Every month of delay with the Animals Abroad Bill is another month where hunters can kill endangered species for fun and then import their body parts into the UK as trophies.”

Ministers are under pressure to include a loophole for hunters who make a donation to conservation – branded a “blood money” clause.

Eduardo Goncalves, founder of the Campaign Against Trophy Hunting who will give evidence to MPs this week, said: “This is beyond shocking. Since the PM first pledged a ban, 95 lion trophies have been brought home by British hunters.”

A Department for Environment spokesman said: “We will be setting out our detailed plans for action soon. Continued discussions with experts will inform this policy.”

12 bears killed during Missouri’s inaugural hunting season.

‘Incredibly successful’ BY KAITLYN ALANIS UPDATED OCTOBER 28, 2021 5:48 PM Kelsie Wikoff, of Hume, with one of 12 bears hunted during Missouri’s inaugural bear hunting season. MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION In what Missouri wildlife officials have called an “incredibly successful first bear hunting season,” hunters killed 12 bears before it came to an end. The 12 black bears were harvested between Oct. 18 and Oct. 27, a 10-day season set as the state’s bear range expands, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. “Bear numbers in Missouri are increasing each year by approximately 9% and are expected to double in less than 10 years,” officials said in a news release. “As bear numbers continue to increase, MDC (used) a highly regulated hunting season as an essential part of population management.” TOP VIDEOS WATCH MORE × Chiefs’ Frank Clark ‘pissed’ over low sack totals, thrown off by injuries The state limited the harvest quota to 40 bears total — equal to about 5% of the state’s current bear population — divided within three regions in southern Missouri. Only 400 people were given a permit to hunt for bears during the specified time frame, and they were randomly selected out of more than 6,330 hunters who applied. $2 for 2 months Subscribe for unlimited access to our website, app, eEdition and more CLAIM OFFER “With any new season, it is difficult to predict hunter success, so we took a conservative approach to limiting the number of hunters and length of the hunting season,” said Laura Conlee, state furbearer and black bear biologist. “This was to ensure we didn’t overharvest the bear population in any one zone.” Bear hunters were only allowed to hunt lone black bears, and they could not harass any bears or take them from their dens. Hunters were not allowed to bait the bears, and they could not use dogs as an assist. “This was an incredibly successful first bear hunting season for Missouri given that we have a highly regulated season, that bears in the state are widely distributed throughout some pretty rugged wilderness, and that many hunters had never hunted bears before,” Conlee said. “A harvest of 12 bears in our first season is testament to the hunters. Bear hunting is an extremely challenging endeavor, especially under the framework that we established. This was a new experience for many hunters, and they put in the work to be successful and take advantage of this new hunting opportunity.” Missouri’s conservation department said black bears were “historically abundant” within the state’s forested areas until they were almost eliminated in the late 1800s. Unregulated killing of the bears and logging the Ozark forests led to their near elimination.

Read more at:

Missouri’s upcoming black bear trophy hunt is reckless and irresponsible




Cody Atkinson <>

October 11, 2021 5:45 am


The Missouri Department of Conservation announced the state’s first
black-bear hunting season earlier this year, set for Oct. 18-27 (photo
courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation).

With its trophy hunt on black bears in the state
run-fall> set to begin in a few days, the Missouri Department of
Conservation (MDC) has taken a reckless and irresponsible turn. A turn
against science. A turn against ecology. A turn against public values.

Like many wildlife agencies around the country, and driven by its
governor-appointed commission, the MDC is trapped in a century-old mindset,
one that assumes we must kill bears to conserve them.

That’s not right, and a trophy hunt is not what we need. We need a new
approach to the management of bears and other wildlife, one that respects
public sentiment concerning charismatic species, takes account of the best
scientific knowledge about their population dynamics and places the
non-lethal mitigation of human-animal conflict above the demands of trophy
hunters and their lobbyists.

It says something about the hasty nature of Missouri’s first trophy hunt of
bears that the commission unanimously approved it with blithe disregard and
without bothering to show Missourians a proper baseline population estimate
for bears. Who doesn’t think that a clear grasp of their numbers and
distribution should precede any discussion of managing bears, let alone
killing them?

It’s worth remembering how fortunate we are that bears, having survived
several centuries of persecution, are in our state at all. What’s more, they
are a primary attraction for millions of people who visit the Ozarks in hope
of catching a glimpse of them.

Trophy hunting, by disrupting their population dynamics, cheats Missourians
and others of the chance to enjoy the experience of seeing them alive. In a
fundamental way, too, the killing of bears undermines a growing ecotourism
industry that brings more dollars into the state than a hundred bear hunts
could ever do.

Trophy hunting is particularly dangerous for black bears and their social
structure because they reproduce slowly and provide extended care to their
young. When a trophy hunter kills an adult breeding male, other males may
come into that territory and kill his cubs. In other words, for each bear
killed by a trophy hunter, there are more bears at risk.

Sadly, the MDC has compounded this threat by authorizing the killing of
unaccompanied bear cubs.

Given the bum rush that accompanies most trophy hunts in the United States,
and at the least, our citizenry has a right to expect prompt action by the
MDC in the likely scenario of a quota overrun like that which occurred
during the outrageous Wisconsin wolf hunt last February.

The failure of Wisconsin officials to halt that hunt once trophy hunters had
exhausted the quota produced an embarrassing carnage that put the lie to any
claims of wise management. Similarly, Florida’s first bear hunt in 2015 was
promptly shut down after only one season after trophy hunters slaughtered
more than 300 bears – including 36 mother bears who were still nursing cubs
– in just two days of what was supposed to be a week-long season.

To be fair, the MDC has shown its willingness to strengthen its
bear-awareness and conflict mitigation programs. That’s good, because
Missourians have made clear how they feel about the wanton killing of bears
for trophies. A March 2019 Remington Research Group poll found that 67% of
Missourians do not support black bear trophy hunting
ing-black-bear-hunt.html> and believe that the state should prioritize
non-lethal methods to reduce human-bear conflict.

Humane management is our future, and this is the mandate for action that the
agency should embrace from now on. There should be no more pandering to a
small faction seeking to foist a trophy hunt on a state where the majority
of citizens don’t want to see it happen at all.

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Hunters take 12 black bears in Missouri’s first bear season


Photo by: StoryblocksFile photo of black bear

By: Hailey GodburnPosted at 1:55 PM, Oct 28, 2021 and last updated 12:03 PM, Oct 28, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri hunters took 12 black bears in the state’s first bear-hunting season.

The season ran from Oct. 18 to Oct. 27, with more than 6,330 hunters applying for 400 permits.

The hunters could have taken 28 more bears with the 40-bear season limit, but Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) officials call the inaugural season a success.

“This was an incredibly successful first bear hunting season for Missouri given that we have a highly regulated season, that bears in the state are widely distributed throughout some pretty rugged wilderness, and that many hunters had never hunted bears before,” MDC State Furbearer and Black Bear Biologist Laura Conlee said.

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Conlee added MDC’s conservative approach made the hunt “an extremely challenging endeavor” for the many first-time bear hunters.

MDC set limits which would allow for a sustainable hunt. Aside from the 40-bear and 400-hunter season limit, MDC also prohibited practices including baiting and the use of dogs.

To avoid losing too many bears, the department also limited the hunt to 10 days and three designated areas called bear management zones (BMZ), which were mostly located south of Interstate 70.

Each zone had its own bear limit. Hunters were limited to one bear per permit issued.

BMZ 1200129
BMZ 2150153
BMZ 35500

Black bear numbers have grown over the last 50 years, after the population was nearly eliminated due to settlement, loss of habitat and unregulated hunting in the late 1800s.

Now, Missouri has around 800 bears, which primarily inhabit areas south of Interstate 44.

The population is increasing by 9% each year and is expected to double in 10 years.

MDC plans to continue using managed hunts to control the population.

Hunters kill 12 bears in Missouri’s first black bear season

  • 23 hrs ago

JEFFERSON CITY — Hunters killed 12 black bears during Missouri’s first black bear hunting season, the Missouri Conservation Department said Thursday.

The hunt was allowed after the state’s black bear population grew to about 800, with most in southern Missouri.

More than 6,330 people applied for 400 permits for the hunt, which limited the total number of bears that could be taken to 40.

The hunt, which began Oct. 17 and ended Wednesday, was divided into three zones.

Hunters took nine bears in southwest Missouri and three in the western zone. No bears were killed in a zone that stretched from southeast Missouri to St. Louis, the department said.

The 40 bear maximum limit was only about 5% of the state’s total bear population, said bear biologist Laura Conlee.

Black bears were abundant in Missouri forests before European settlement but were nearly eliminated by unregulated killing in the late 19th century and habitat loss in the Ozarks.

Their numbers have rebounded in the last 50 years and the population is expected to double in the next 10 years, the conservation department said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Missouri hunter shoots first black bear during state’s hunting season Content Exchange

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Lucas Bond, communications manager with the Missouri Department of Conservation, interviews a hunter who harvested the first black bear in southwestern Missouri on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. Video provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation

The first black bear hunted in the state of Missouri was shot in the southwest part of the state on Monday.

The bear, a female weighing about 250 pounds, was hunted on private land, said Missouri Department of Conservation communications manager Lucas Bond. 

A second bear was also hunted Monday on public land in the same area of Missouri, Bond said.

Bond didn’t release the full name of the hunter who shot the first bear. In a video posted to the department’s Facebook page, the hunter said he knew he had bears on his property.

“Very exciting. I’ve hunted my entire life,” the man said. “As far as the hunt, this was probably the most thrilling, exciting thing that I’ve ever done … Bear come in, couldn’t really believe it and couldn’t believe that I actually seen one … I didn’t hesitate very long to be honest with you.”

“Looking forward to taking it to the taxidermist,” the hunter said, adding that he’s also excited to try the meat.

The area of the state where both bears were shot is south of Springfield and Joplin, and west of West Plains. 

The black bear season this year is the first in the state, and continues through Oct. 27. The state has an estimated black bear population of about 800, mostly found south of the Missouri River.

The hunters received permits in a lottery, and the state set a quota of 40 bears to be hunted during the season. A hunter with a permit can only shoot one bear. Once quotas are met, the season closes.

Hunters can use either bows or firearms during the season; Bond said the first bear was shot with a rifle.

Nevada must put a stop to barbaric bear hunts | Sheila Leslie

Sheila Leslie

This opinion column was submitted by RGJ columnist Sheila Leslie, who served in the Nevada Legislature from 1998 to 2012.

If ever there were a time to re-evaluate the decision to allow trophy bear hunting in Nevada, it’s this year. Our unprecedented wildfire season has decimated prime bear habitat, leaving dehydrated and thirsty bears homeless, no doubt traumatized by the extreme heat and smoke and utterly confused by the loss of their territory. The photos of bears wandering the streets of South Lake Tahoe during the mandatory evacuation searching for food, water and a safe place to sleep were heartbreaking.

Nevada’s annual hunting of the bears has been controversial from the start. The Nevada Department of Wildlife authorized the hunt in 2011 purely for recreational purposes and not as a management tool to control the population. Hunters dismissed the objections from wildlife conservationists as ignorant urban Nevadans not understanding or caring about the sacred rural tradition of tramping through the mountains in search of animals to kill — or as they say, wildlife to “harvest.”

Hunting the bears for sport in Nevada is not popular outside of rural hunting enclaves, especially hunting with the aid of specially trained dogs, or “hounds” as hunters prefer to call them, which the majority of states with bear hunts do not permit. Nevada allows hunters to use the GPS signal on a dog collar to lead them to a cornered bear for an easy kill. Not much of a challenge for the hunter who scores his bear trophy, but an agonizing and horrible death for the bear, exhausted after trying to evade the hounds on a long chase. Many, including me, find this practice barbaric; but the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners and their supporters, most of whom are hunters themselves, dismiss the objections as trivial criticism from city dwellers who are far too sentimental about bears.

More:Nevada wildlife groups, state butt heads over annual bear hunt, both citing wildfires

After the massive wildfires this summer, the anti-hunt movement redoubled its efforts to protect the struggling bear population. In a letter to NDOW, wildlife advocates from seven organizations pleaded with officials to at least cancel the hunt in the areas affected by the Tamarack and Caldor wildfires and give the bears a break. Don Molde of the Nevada Wildlife Alliance said “Our black bears are iconic animals, and at a time of dire need the fate of individual bears is just as important as the fate of the population. Now is not the time to add additional harassment to what they’ve already suffered.”Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.Create Account

There is plenty of authority in the statutes for NDOW Director Tony Wasley to cancel the hunt which began on Sept. 15, but he refused to do so, telling the Nevada Current, “The reality is that sometimes, reducing population numbers can improve habitat conditions and subsequently improve animal health which results in increased survival.”

Advocates for the bears disagree. Ann Bryant from California’s BEAR League says the bears are “confused, displaced and completely out of energy…weakened and already terrorized beyond comprehension.” Kathryn Bricker of No Bear Hunt NV agrees: “Given the habitat destruction and displacement the bears are experiencing due to the fires, to now also chase them with packs of hounds to then be shot in a recreational hunt is cruel beyond measure. Have we no moral compass?”

Apparently not.

But the hunters may be overplaying their hand this year, especially if photos surface of hunting dogs treeing an exhausted bear. NDOW’s decision to put trophy hunters’ interests over the much larger number of Nevadans who enjoy the back country complete with wildlife may lead the 2023 Legislature to outlaw bear hunts altogether. And while they’re at it, perhaps they’ll consider banning the brutal coyote hunts as well.

This month the Reno City Council approved a resolution with just one “no” vote to ask NDOW to end the controversial coyote hunts that award prizes in categories such as the most coyotes killed in a day. Mayor Hillary Schieve said, “This is an animal cruelty issue, and I find it heinous. I want us to be a city where people understand we will not tolerate cruelty to animals.” But one can easily imagine NDOW officials tossing the city’s resolution into the same bin as the pro-bear letter from the wildlife advocates.

NDOW is supposed to “protect, conserve, manage and restore wildlife and its habitat for the aesthetic, scientific, educational, recreational, and economic benefits to citizens of Nevada.” Allowing hound-hunting of bears and the slaughter of coyotes for prize money serves only the recreational pursuits of blood sport hunters. The rest of us who want wildlife conserved for the enjoyment of the vast majority of Nevadans who abhor trophy hunting are wondering why NDOW doesn’t protect our interests. Since NDOW won’t end these abhorrent hunts, the Legislature should do it instead. And they might as well abolish the Wildlife Commission too, and refocus NDOW on conserving wildlife instead of providing bear hunters with a souvenir.

RGJ columnist Sheila Leslie served in the Nevada Legislature from 1998 to 2012.

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Bear hunting, ATV violations keep Minnesota DNR officers busy

Department of Natural Resources report for the week of Sept. 13, 2021.Written By: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources | 4:07 pm, Sep. 13, 2021

District 5  Eveleth area

Conservation Officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports fall recreational activities are increasing with bear hunting and ATV riding being the main focuses. Instructing emergency vehicle operations to fellow conservation officers was conducted at Camp Ripley. More than 50 local youth received their firearms safety certificate over the weekend.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls 2) reports checking anglers on Rainy Lake as well as checking bear baits in the area. Unregistered bear baits and bear baits without the required signage were located. Enforcement action was taken for these issues. Simonson also assisted with a youth firearms safety class in the International Falls area.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring angling and boating activities. ATV-riding and goose-hunting activities were checked. Forest roads were monitored and other time was spent on equipment work and administrative reporting.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily ATV enforcement and bear-hunting enforcement. Larson worked a case related to ATVs in a state park, and assisted another CO with a case related to operating an ATV under the influence.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked big-game, ATV and fishing activity. Time was also spent following up on calls, responding to nuisance-bear/beaver complaints, and speaking at a special archery hunt orientation in Side Lake.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia Station) assisted multiple agencies with a person who was stranded on an ATV trail for nearly 10 hours in their disabled pickup truck. He also assisted a person who had their Class II ATV stuck in a bog on a snowmobile trail. Zavodnik continues to work on equipment maintenance for the fall hunting seasons and also prepared for upcoming Honor Guard training. Several ATV and waterfowl violations were addressed.

District 6  Two Harbors area

CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) checked anglers and boaters this past week. He also followed up on a couple of burning complaints during the current fire restrictions. Bear-hunting activity, including bear baiting, has been slowing down, as have bear-related complaints in general.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) checked bear hunters and followed up on big-game investigations. Time was spent checking anglers and ATV riders. Enforcement was taken for big-game and ATV violations.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) worked bear hunters and rechecked bait stations of successful hunters who were done. After some investigation, she located a hunter who had used entire beaver carcasses in a bait station that was registered to a young hunter who had already gotten his bear. A few unregistered bait stations were also investigated, along with some illegal ATV operation.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked Labor Day patrolling local ATV trails and complaint areas with CO Larson. A couple citations were issued for allowing illegal youth operation of an ATV and operating on a closed trail. One individual was arrested for DWI on an ATV. Emergency vehicle operations course refresher was completed. Twenty youth were certified in firearms safety in Babbitt.

Additional enforcement action was taken for fishing without a license and for speeding after an individual passed the officer and continued at over 100 mph.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area bear-hunting and angling activity this past week. Time was also spent at Camp Ripley with training and collecting backgrounds for an upcoming Academy.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports bear hunters have all but left the area after an extremely busy first week of the season. Violations have been minimal since the first few days and Hill thanks the hunters for sticking to the regulations books.

Speaking of regulations books, questions are starting to pour in about the upcoming white-tailed deer seasons. Now is a good time to get your questions answered, and Hill stresses that the majority of the questions can be answered with just a few page flips. Hill started a background investigation for an applicant in the hiring process for the CO Prep program.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked early goose and bear-hunting activity during the week. Bears continue to be active, with hunters seeing high use at baits. Murray also checked fall anglers and wild rice harvesters. Several questions on fire restrictions were answered.

District 7  Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) spent the week focusing primarily on bear-hunting activities. Time was also spent enforcing ATV activities and checking a few anglers and waterfowl hunters. Enforcement action was taken for fishing while fishing privileges are revoked; expired ATV registration; failure to display ATV registration; improper bear-bait signs; placing bear-bait warning signs; and for two people hunting over unregistered bear-bait stations.

CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) patrolled state parks and worked anglers, big-game waterfowl hunters, watercraft operators and ATV riders. Numerous game and fish-related questions were answered. He also responded to wildlife-related complaints and assisted other agencies.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, worked bear hunting, monitored off-highway vehicle activity and investigated Turn in Poachers complaints. Angler success was great this week. Enforcement action was taken for allowing illegal operation of ATVs by juveniles, illegal transportation of fish and license issues.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked bear-hunting activities, with the hunter success rate being very high. Sutherland also worked fall fishing activities. With the water cooling, fish are starting to become active again. Enforcement actions were taken for operating an ATV on a U.S. highway and not displaying valid registration numbers.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) reports working big-game, migratory waterfowl, angling and boating enforcement. Assistance was also given to local law enforcement agencies for various calls for service. Questions regarding the upcoming duck and deer seasons were also fielded and answered. Enforcement action was taken for several angling violations.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) responded to several nuisance-wildlife and injured-animal calls. Bear-hunting activity has slowed significantly after the first week. Assistance was given to other law enforcement agencies and enforcement action was taken for various violations, including burning prohibited materials.

District 8  Duluth area

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) checked several past deer-baiting locations. He continued working an illegal bear-baiting station that is not registered or signed, and checked anglers on area lakes and shorelines. ATV activity was worked at high-use locations. A trespass complaint was investigated and will require follow up. Duncan also spent a day at Camp Ripley for emergency vehicle operations training

CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) continued working various hunting and off-highway vehicle enforcement. He investigated litter and bear-carcass dumping complaints. A nuisance-bear permit was issued at a farm with crop damage. Humphrey attended a Sept. 11 memorial event in Grand Rapids as part of a joint Honor Guard detail.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) reports Lake Superior has been producing good catches of lake trout, pink salmon and some coho salmon in the waters near Silver Bay and Twin Points. The recent nice weather and sea conditions had many people out enjoying the lake. He worked possible deer shining and trespassing in the Saginaw area. Bear hunters are still having success in the Two Harbors area as well.

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked shore anglers and those out trolling. Goose hunting was monitored and commercial fishing items worked. ATV-related complaints were received, and yet another operator was found transporting young children without helmets. Enforcement action was taken for ATV and waterfowl violations.

September ushers in hunting seasons across Wisconsin. Here’s a preview.

[Know thy friend’s enemy]:

Paul A. SmithMilwaukee Journal SentinelView Comments

Most Wisconsin hunting opportunities open in September, including the statewide bow deer seasons on Sept. 18 and the northern duck season on Sept. 25.

It would be probably be enough to know the Green Bay Packers were about to start their season.

Or to see yellow buses ferrying students to and from schools.

But for a segment of the Wisconsin populace, there’s another sign that autumn has arrive: the start of hunting seasons.

“The best time of year is upon us,” said Jay Snopek of Nelson, who hunts white-tailed deer, wild turkey and waterfowl in the bluffs and waters of Buffalo County. “Time to escape this crazy world and get into the swamp and woods.”

Snopek is among an estimated 1 million license buyers who will pursue game in Wisconsin this year.

Conditions are once again very good for most species, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Story from Robert Wood Johnson FoundationThose raising kids shared hopes and challengesHere’s a look at what parents and caregivers think about raising the most racially and ethnically diverse generation to ever grow up in the United States.See More →

More:Smith: The relationship between Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board and DNR has devolved into dysfunction

The agency has issued forecasts for the 2021-22 seasons, notes about rules changes, safety guidelines and recommendations to keep the state’s woods and waters healthy and reduce spread of invasive species.

With many hunting seasons opening Saturday, here’s a preview of information for the fall.


With a mild 2020-21 winter and below-average harvests in 2019 and 2020, Wisconsin deer hunters can look forward to increased harvest opportunities around the state, according to the DNR.

That includes northern Wisconsin, where the mild winter allowed for deer population growth across the region, the DNR says.

It’s important for hunters to remember habitat quantity and quality varies greatly across the landscape and the number of deer inhabiting individual properties can vary significantly.

Deer season structure and management zone map for the 2021 Wisconsin hunting season.

This season 36 counties will offer the antlerless-only holiday hunt from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1.

In addition, archery and crossbow deer seasons have been extended in 27 counties, closing Jan. 31.

Due to recent findings of chronic wasting disease, baiting and feeding regulations have changed in select counties. For example, a CWD-positive deer found this summer at a deer farm in Taylor County led to a new ban on baiting and feeding in that county; it took effect Sept. 1.Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.Create Account


 A record of about 130,000 people applied for Wisconsin bear harvest authorizations in 2021, an indication of the strong and growing interest in bear hunting in the state, according to the DNR.

The agency made 11,530 bear permits available for this fall.

New this year is a six-zone bear management structure. The reconfiguration was a central recommendation from the Wisconsin Black Bear Management Plan finalized in 2019.

The new zones are designed to better reflect Wisconsin’s bear population distribution and to address human-bear conflicts, the agency said.


 The 2021 Wisconsin spring waterfowl survey estimated the state had 522,426 ducks, a 7% increase from the previous survey.

Mallards are the most abundant duck in Wisconsin and make up 32% of the state’s total duck harvest. Mallard numbers dropped 5% this year but remain within 4% of the state’s long-term average.

The 2021 breeding population estimate of Canada geese in Wisconsin was about 181,000 birds, nearly 70% higher than the long-term average and a sign of a continuing increase in the state’s goose population, according to the DNR.

This year’s Wisconsin waterfowl seasons will feature a change in hunting zones. The Mississippi River zone has been eliminated and replaced by an Open Water Zone in Green Bay and Lake Michigan. The Mississippi River will follow the southern zone season framework.

Also new this year the scaup bag limit will decrease to one scaup for 15 days and two scaup for 45 days based on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s season framework.

Once again this year the Wisconsin duck seasons are 60 days long with six-duck daily bag limits. A full breakdown of bag limit by day is available on the DNR website.

Wild turkey

The DNR issued 81,710 fall turkey harvest authorizations in 2020, and hunters registered 4,600 birds, a year-over-year increase of 21%.

The 2020 season saw a 5.6% hunter success rate (uncorrected for non-participation), similar to 5.1% in 2019. Many people hunt turkeys in fall at the same time they are hunting deer during the bow seasons.

More:Smith: Wild turkey reintroduction a Wisconsin success story, but will it last?

Ring-necked pheasant

Results are not yet available from the 2021 spring ring-necked pheasant crowing survey and the rural mail carrier survey.

The 2020 rural mail carrier survey results indicated an 18% decrease in pheasant populations from 2019, with the highest numbers of pheasants seen in the northwest, specifically St. Croix, Polk and Fond du Lac counties. A long-term decline in stable grassland cover across the state has contributed to a decline in ring-necked pheasant populations.

The State Game Farm is raising pheasants again this year and plans to release 75,000 pheasants on public properties. 

In 2020, 42,532 hunters spending 29,586 days afield in pursuit of pheasants and harvested 272,023 birds, a drop from 291,400 in 2019.

Ruffed grouse

 Ruffed grouse are on the downward portion of their traditional 10-year population cycle but are still present in good numbers in areas with good habitat, according to the DNR. 

A new permanent rule will take effect this season and close the grouse hunt on Jan, 9 in Zone A (northern Wisconsin). The season had closed Jan. 31 under the previous format.

Chronic wasting disease

 CWD is a fatal, contagious neurological disease of deer, elk, moose and reindeer caused by a misshapen form of a protein called a prion. It has not been shown to cause illness in humans but health experts advise meat from CWD-positive animals not be consumed.

The disease is spread to healthy animals through contact with an infected animal’s saliva, urine, blood, feces, carcass or contaminated environment.

By taking precautions while in the field, hunters can minimize the spread of CWD. The DNR recommends using synthetic scents, refraining from baiting and feeding and properly disposing deer carcasses.

In 2021, CWD testing will be available to all hunters through a combination of in-person, self-service and on-request sampling locations.

Individuals and organizations can volunteer to sponsor a self-service CWD kiosk or deer carcass dumpster through the DNR’s Adopt-a-Kiosk and Adopt-a-Dumpster programs. Again this year, the department will offer a cost-sharing option to offset the expense of sponsoring a dumpster. Find more information on how to get involved on the DNR website.

Help prevent spread of invasive species

The DNR is also asking waterfowl hunters to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species this fall.

Just a few minutes of preventative action can help preserve and protect hunting lands for generations to come, according to the DNR. Before launching into and leaving a waterbody, waterfowl hunters should:

  • Inspect waders, boats, trailers, motors and hunting equipment, including boots, blinds and dogs.
  • Remove all plants, animals and mud to the best of their ability.
  • Drain all water from decoys, boats, motors, livewells and other hunting equipment.
  • Remove all seed heads and roots when using vegetation for duck blinds.
  • Never move plants or live animals, such as snails, away from a water body.

Hunter safety

The DNR encourages all hunters to complete a hunter safety course or do a quick skills refresh prior to the season.

More than 20,000 people take hunter education courses in Wisconsin each year, according to the agency. Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, must have a hunter education certification to purchase a hunting license unless hunting under the Mentored Hunting Law. 

Now through Oct. 1, hunters of all ages may complete their safety course online or in person. Visit for details.