Wisconsin has plenty of animals for this year's five-week bear hunt.
It's the Wednesday following Labor Day, so it must be bear hunting season in Wisconsin. DNR wildlife ecologist Keith Warnke says there are two methods used to hunt black bear.
"One is with the use of dogs; one is over bait without the use of dogs."
This year, hunters who rely on bear baits — rather than the use of dogs — get the first shot. Those who rely on dogs will have to wait a week for their season to begin.
Warnke says the majority of bear hunting occurs in the top third of the state, in what they call Zones A, B, and D. "However, south of Highway 64 we also have what is known as Zone C, which is the remainder of the state … we have a growing bear population in Zone C."
Warnke adds bears are being spotted further south in the Badger State, showing up in Sauk, Richmond, Vernon and Lacrosse Counties.
The DNR has issued about 4,700 bear permits this year. Many permit holders hunt with friends — all helping to boost the local economy.
Warnke says the current bear population estimate sits around 13,000 animals, however officials are on the brink of completing another research project which they believe will significantly increase that estimate, to possibly better than 20,000 bears.