(Courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)

DNR asks hunters to watch for, report, bear dens

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR)’s Office of Applied Science (OAS) is asking for your help this fall and winter to identify potentially active bear dens.

Den location data is being collected as part of the ongoing Black Bear Litter and Diet Survey, which seeks to estimate bear reproductive rates within management zones and monitor the effects that the consumption of human food might have on them. The information gathered will then be used to inform bear management decisions, including harvest quotas, throughout the state.

If you see a potentially active black bear den while on a hunt, you can report its location to the scientists leading this project using this survey link.

Tips for safe and effective reporting:

  • Be careful and keep a safe distance of approximately 30 yards when near a suspected den. If you see a bear, do not try to approach even if you think they’re resting.
  • Take note of your surroundings. Are there any visible tracks, scratch marks on trees, scat or damaged vegetation nearby? Have there been recent bear sightings in the area? Do you hear any noises coming from the den?
  • Drop a pin in your phone to record the GPS coordinates of your location. If this is not possible, try to remember a detailed description of where you were on the property in question.
  • If you have a camera, or phone with a camera function, take a photo from a safe distance (approximately 30 yards) where the den is visible.

To learn more, you can check out this video discussing the project.