MNR: Report black bear den locations for new research study | Dunn County News

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is asking the public to report any black bear den locations they find in Wisconsin to support a new research study.

Led by the ministry’s Office of Applied Science, the study will analyze reported dens and generate estimates of breeding rates in each bear management area. These estimates will improve the accuracy of population models for these areas.

Wisconsin is home to a thriving black bear population estimated at over 24,000 bears. The black bear’s primary range is in the northern third of the state, but healthy black populations are also found in central and western Wisconsin. The range continues to expand outside of the traditional bear range in the north due to an abundant population and suitable bear habitat that has facilitated southward travel.

MNR periodically re-evaluates portions of its animal species population models, including black bears, to determine the number of new black bears each year based on estimates of average litter size, litter frequency, and offspring survival rate.

Black bear dens are often difficult to locate, making public reporting essential for data collection to support the study and increase the accuracy of the black bear population model. Known dens from previous years may be useful if they are still in use, and the public is encouraged to provide as much information as possible about the location of the den and its recent use.

MNR researchers have begun working with local and federal biologists, tribal partners and the general public to locate black bear dens. At the end of winter, research staff will collar female black bears and collect data at each den, including recording the sex, weight and measurements of the sow and cubs.

Paul N. Strickland