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Bear hunting

Black bear walking through a young spruce stand

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 As part of the plan, new bear management zones took effect in 2021.

Hunters should check the new bear management zone map before applying for a harvest permit as their hunting grounds may be in a new unit.

for a bear permit or purchase a preference point on Go Wild.

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 2021, 11,530 harvest permits were available and hunters responded by harvesting 3,847 bears. 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 2022 bear application drawing, individual winners will be chosen based on their preference points. All unsuccessful applicants will retain their preference points following the drawing.

2022 Black Bear Drawing Summary

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.

What To Do For Nuisance Or Injured Black Bears

Having issues with a black bear on your property or in your neighborhood? Call our partners at USDA Wildlife Services. They check voicemails daily and help Wisconsinites resolve bear issues across the state.

USDA Wildlife Services, Northern Wisconsin: 800-228-1368 (in-state) or 715-369-5221

USDA Wildlife Services, Southern Wisconsin: 800-433-0663 (in-state) or 920-324-4514