Bear hunt highlighted by bigger bruins in ’08

Lansing – Some areas were up, some were down. Overall,
Michigan’s 2008 bear harvest looks a lot like last year, with the
exception that apparently more large bears were killed this fall
than in the recent past. Last year, hunters killed 2,169 bruins,
making 2007 the seventh year in a row that Michigan hunters killed
more than 2,000 black bear during the annual Sept. 10-Oct. 26 hunt.
This year’s final harvest number should be close to that total.

“We registered 165 bears this year, which is about the same as
last year,”_Ted Breland, of Settler’s Co-op in Bruce Crossing in
Ontonagon County, told Michigan Outdoor News. Settler’s is a bear
registration station, one of about 70 such stations scattered
across the U.P. and the northern Lower Peninsula. Every successful
bear hunter in Michigan must bring his or her bear to a check
station within 72 hours of killing the animal.

“The thing this year was that there were several big bears
brought in,” Breland said. “Our biggest (weighed) 519 and we had
seven or eight that were over 400 pounds. We usually get one or two
that big. Overall, it was a real good year. The bears all looked in
real good shape.”

Over at Marquette, DNR_wildlife biologist Terry McFadden said he
also checked in an above-normal number of large black bears,
including several in the 500-pound range.

“Every year we get a handful of large bears, but it seemed like
we had a few more this year,” McFadden said. “Overall, our harvest
was very comparable to the last four years.”

The sizes were up at Escanaba, too.

“The average bear we saw this year seemed to be a little bigger
than usual,” said Glen White, owner of White’s Grocery in Escanaba,
another bear check station. “We had two that were over 500 pounds.
One was killed here locally and it weighed 525.”

DNR Bear Specialist Adam Bump said he’s still gathering harvest
numbers from some of the check stations, but that early indications
point to another successful season.

“Overall, from what I’ve heard, I’d say it was a good to very
good season,” Bump said. “Localized, like in areas of the eastern
U.P., some people are saying the bear numbers are down, but in
other areas, like the Red Oak Unit (northern Lower), we had a
really good harvest.”

In the Red Oak Bear Management Unit Bump said hunters killed 433
bears, compared with 310 in 2007.

Some BMUs, however, saw declines in harvest numbers.

Minzie said 360 bears were checked in Newberry, down from last
year.

The DNR allocates about 12,000 bear licenses annually to a pool
of around 55,000 applicants. Biologists say approximately 9,000
hunters actually participate in the hunt each year.

Bump said more than 1,700 bears had been confirmed taken by
hunters this fall as of Nov. 12, but that he had not received all
the data from all the check stations.

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