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Bear hunting

Black bear walking through a young spruce stand

Important changes to the 2021 bear season

The Wisconsin Black Bear Management Plan 2019 - 2029 was developed by the DNR Bear Advisory Committee and approved by the Natural Resources Board in May 2019. Among the changes are new zones, which will take effect in 2021. Applicants and hunters are reminded to be aware of the new bear management zone boundaries as their hunting grounds may be in a new unit.

for a bear permit or purchase a preference point on GoWild.

Black bears are perhaps the single wildlife species most emblematic of Wisconsin's north woods, and they have a distinct cultural, social, and economic value. Seeing a black bear in the wild is an exciting experience for many and an equal thrill for those who prize the black bear as a big game species. The Wisconsin black bear population is thriving and expanding its occupied range in the state. In 2020, 11,535 harvest permits were available and hunters responded by harvesting more than 4,100 bears, the 5th highest bear harvest documented in Wisconsin history. Hunters also play a critical role in bear management by providing biological data from harvested bears, which is crucial to population assessment and ensuring a healthy bear population.

Season information

Check your preference points

There are three ways in which hunters can determine the number of preference points that they have accumulated. You must apply for a bear license or preference point at least once every three years to avoid losing your accumulated preference points. To find out about how many points you have accumulated:

  • contact the DNR Call Center 1-888-936-7463;
  • visit the online licensing center; or
  • contact your local DNR Service Center.

Drawing information

Applications for a Class A bear license can be made at any authorized license agent, DNR Service Center, or online. Please note paper applications are no longer available. The deadline for bear season applications is always Dec. 10.

For the 2021 bear application drawing, individual winners will be chosen based on their preference points. All unsuccessful applicants will retain their preference points following the drawing.

Status of preference points in 2021 drawing [PDF]

Check your status in the bear application drawing

It is the permit applicant's responsibility to know their drawing status and whether they were selected for purchasing a harvest permit. There are three ways in which hunters can determine whether they were selected in the drawing. To find out about how many points you have accumulated or your drawing status:

  • contact the DNR Call Center 1-888-936-7463;
  • visit the online licensing center; or
  • contact your local DNR Service Center.

If you are experiencing nuisance or damage problems with bears and are located in northern Wisconsin, please contact USDA Wildlife Services at 800-228-1368 (in-state) or 715-369-5221. In southern Wisconsin call 800-433-0663 (in-state) or 920-324-4514.