Minnesota bear harvest down
Minnesota black bear hunters have shot only about half as many bears as at the same time last year, said Dave Garshelis, bear project leader for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. As of Sept. 11, hunters had killed 1,267 bears this fall, compared to 2,452 at the same time last year, Garshelis said.
Minnesota’s bear season opened Sept. 1 and continues through Oct. 14. Garshelis suspects the abundance of natural foods in the woods has kept bears from visiting hunters’ baits as often as in some years.
“There’s a lot of natural food, and a lot of it was delayed all summer,” Garshelis said. “Stuff that shouldn’t be around is around now — berries like cherries.”
He also said the bear population may not be as large as it was a few years ago. The last population survey was done in 2002 and turned up an estimate of 20,000 to 30,000 bears. A new survey, using tetracycline baits that leave a trace in bears’ teeth, is under way this fall and next fall, Garshelis said.