Early black bear sightings in southern Wisconsin

Discussion in 'Outdoor News' started by Wisconsin DNR News, Apr 16, 2015.

  1. By South Central Region April 16, 2015

    Contact(s): Bill Ishmael, area wildlife supervisor, Dodgeville, 608-574-2087 Nancy Frost, Sauk County wildlife biologist, 608-225-7362

    DODGEVILLE, Wis - Black bear sightings in southwest Wisconsin within the last week have prompted Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists to point out that their visitations are becoming more common each year in southern Wisconsin.

    June is the breeding season for bears in Wisconsin and most bear sightings received in southern counties occur during May and June when sub-adult bears, mostly young males, are forced out of breeding territories up north and disperse long distances in search of new habitat.

    "Black bears and people have coexisted for centuries in northern Wisconsin and there's no cause for alarm," explained Dodgeville area DNR wildlife biologist, Bill Ishmael. "They are normally very timid and usually avoid contact with people. However, they may cause problems by damaging bird feeders or foraging through unsecured garbage containers and they may return to the same area if food is readily available.

    "So, if possible, keep your garbage, grills, compost, pet foods and bird feeders out of reach if a bear has been reported in the vicinity.

    "Although we've had a few instances in past years when bears have stayed around southern counties through the summer, many of the wandering bears will leave the area and presumably return north as the breeding season ends.

    "During the past few years we have received reports of mother bears with cubs and with yearlings which resulted in continued bear sightings throughout the summer," added Ishmael. "This is because female bears with their young cubs or yearlings are less likely to move long distances over a short time period.

    "The wooded hills, coulees, creeks and river bottoms in southwestern Wisconsin's Driftless Area provide abundant food and cover for bears as well as potential winter den sites, so it's possible that wandering bears will find it to their liking and some may decide to stay."

    Wildlife biologists note that the best way to avoid trouble with bears around your home is to follow these steps:

    � Don't knowingly feed a bear

    � Completely remove bird feeders, even during daytime hours - if a bear is active in your area.

    � Clean areas where bird feeders were located so that accumulated deposits of spilled seed are removed.

    � Reduce garbage odors by rinsing food cans before putting them in recycling containers or garbage cans.

    � Compost vegetable scraps only.

    � Keep meat scraps in the freezer until garbage day and garbage cans in a closed building until pick-up.

    � Keep pet food inside or don't feed in the evening.

    � Keep barbeque grills and picnic tables clean.

    General guidelines for campers include not sleeping in clothes worn while cooking, don't bring food into the tent, don't dump food scraps by your campsite and make sure all food, scraps and cooking utensils are in critter-proof containers.

    If you encounter a bear while in the woods - stay calm, don't shoot the bear or approach it. Give it space, walk away and watch from a distance. Do not approach sows with cubs.

    Brochures explaining bear habitats and ways to void them are available from the Spring Green, Boscobel, Poynette or Dodgeville DNR offices and online.

    If you have bear troubles and are in need of assistance, please call the USDA Wildlife Services 24-hour hotline at 1-800-433-0663. To report bear sightings, please call Bill Ishmael at 608-935-1918 or by e-mail at [email protected] or Sauk County Wildlife Biologist, Nancy Frost at 608-225-7362 or by e-mail at [email protected].

    Last Revised: Thursday, April 16, 2015