Tuesday, February 7th, 2023
Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

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Bear hunters eyeing another good season

Lansing – Michigan bear hunters can expect another good hunt
when the 2008 bear season opens on Sept. 10.

“Hunters can expect a season similar to the last two as far as
bears are concerned. The population is similar to the past couple
years,” Adam Bump, the DNR’s bear specialist told Michigan Outdoor
News. “For most areas, especially in the U.P., we had an increase
in the number of tags available.”

Bear hunters enjoyed a banner year in 2006 when 8,915 hunters
combined to kill a record 2,641 black bears. Those numbers dipped
slightly in 2007 to 8,885 hunters tagging 2,165 bruins. With 12,993
tags available this year, compared with 11,905 last year and 11,845
in 2006, the fall season of 2008 could well produce another record
harvest.

“The bear season is looking good,” said Barry Drews, of Bear’s
Nine Pines Resort on Lake Gogebic in the Bergland Bear Management
Unit. “Historically, we’ve always had good numbers in this area,
and this year should be the same. There are a lot of bears
around.”

Drews said the natural conditions this year could be conducive
to a good season for bait hunters.

“It’s been a dry year and the mast crops could be down a
little,” Drews said. “That’s usually a good sign for baiters,
because if the bears don’t have the natural food sources to eat,
they’ll come to the bait.”

The DNR estimates the state’s black bear population at 15,000 to
19,000, with about 90 percent of them living above the Mackinaw
Bridge.

“Generally, the highest concentrations of bears are at the west
end of the U.P. in Baraga and Bergland (BMUs),” Bump said. “But
there are still good numbers in the eastern U.P. and in the Lower
Peninsula, particularly in Red Oak (BMU), depending on where you
hunt.”

Recent harvest numbers back up that claim.

During the past two years, hunters in Baraga have tagged 935
bears, hunters in Bergland have killed 726, hunters in Newberry
have taken 905, and hunters in Red Oak have killed 733.

Despite the hunter success, Michigan’s bear population appears
to be expanding.

“There seems to be an increasing number of reports of bears
south of our BMUs open to hunting,” Bump said. “We’re getting more
and more reports of people seeing bears in southern Michigan. Last
year, someone hit a cub near Battle Creek.”

In response to that apparent increase in bear range, the DNR has
opened hunting during the past two years in several counties on the
south end of the hunting units, including Mason, Oceana, Muskegon,
Isabella, Mecosta, Midland, and part of Bay.

“We’re starting to get reports from southern Michigan pretty
regularly. Usually it’s younger male bears who are expanding their
range, but we’re starting to see sows and cubs a little, which
indicates a breeding population down there,” Bump said.

There are a few regulation changes for this year that hunters
should be aware of:

€ On Drummond Island, where there used to be a limited 6-day
season, the season is now open Sept. 10-Oct. 26, the same as on the
mainland. However, no hound hunting is allowed the first five days,
Sept. 10-14;

€ The Baldwin BMU has been split into two units – North and
South. In the North Unit, the season runs Sept. 12-25. In the South
Unit, the season runs Sept. 19-25.

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