Michigan DNR Bear Forum to Meet Dec. 9 in Mackinac County

Will be meeting to assess future black bear management in Michigan.

DNR Bear Forum to meet Dec. 9 in Mackinac County to assess future black bear management in Michigan
Michigan DNR
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Michigan -(Ammoland.com)- The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will hold a public meeting of the state’s Bear Forum next month in St. Ignace to begin discussions on possible future bear hunting regulation changes.

black bear fitted with a GPS tracking collar The meeting will start at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9, at the Little Bear East Arena, located at 275 Marquette St., in St. Ignace.

Members of the DNR Bear Forum include 17 individuals who represent various sportsmen’s clubs, the U.S. Forest Service, the agricultural community and nonaffiliated bear hunters throughout Michigan.

The purpose of the meeting is to enable DNR staff to engage with a wide range of bear hunting groups and other interested outdoor enthusiasts.

DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason explained the importance of the session.

“The next regulation cycle will be in 2017,” Mason said. “It is imperative that we begin this engagement process now, so that we have enough time to consider possible regulation changes and to vet them through our Bear Forum members and various DNR staff, prior to making a recommendation to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission.”

The seven-member governor-appointed commission regulates the taking of fish and game in Michigan.

The DNR Wildlife Division’s most recent estimate of Michigan’s bear population is approximately 11,000 animals, not including cubs.

“There have been varying opinions on bear numbers and management in Michigan,” Mason said. “Some user groups feel we do not have enough bears and others believe we have far too many.”

Kevin Swanson, a DNR wildlife management specialist in Marquette, said it is the DNR’s challenge to embrace those differences of opinion and to assess its population estimate and numerous other scientific indicators in preparation for the next bear regulation cycle.

The statewide bear harvest peaked in 2006 when nearly 2,500 bears were harvested.

“But in an effort to grow the population, due to various population concerns and robust habitat capabilities in the Upper and northern Lower peninsulas, that harvest has been reduced in recent years to about 1,500 animals,” Swanson said.

At the meeting, DNR Wildlife Division staff will provide an overview of long-term harvest statistics, population estimates and trend indicators for each bear management unit, while considering future license quotas and desired harvest.

Several additional topics will be discussed, including joint DNR and Mississippi State University research on bear predation of white-tailed deer fawns in low and moderate snowfall zones of the Upper Peninsula.

The public is encouraged to attend the Bear Forum session. DNR staff will be available after the meeting to discuss bear management with attendees.

For more information on Michigan black bears and bear hunting, visit www.michigan.gov/bear