MADISON – The application period for the 2021 bear hunting season will open July 1 after the successful completion of legislative review. The application deadline remains Dec. 10.
Applicants are reminded to be aware of the new bear management zone boundaries as their usual hunting grounds may change to a new unit beginning in 2021. State wildlife officials do not know precisely how these changes will specifically affect harvest permit wait times, but they expect there will likely be no significant changes across zones A, B, C and D. There will be no zone changes for the upcoming 2020 bear season.
Wisconsin bear hunting is prevalent, and more people apply each year than the number of licenses available. For 2020, more than 119,000 hunters applied for a permit or a preference point for 11,535 available permits.
The new zones are part of the Wisconsin Black Bear Management Plan, 2019-2029 [PDF] developed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bear Advisory Committee and approved by the Natural Resources Board in May 2019. The new bear management zones are designed to address bear conflicts and manage desired population levels effectively.
People who would like to hunt black bear in Wisconsin must possess a Class A bear license. Hunters may obtain a Class A bear license by:
- Being selected in the bear drawing;
- Participating in the Learn to Bear Hunt Program; or
- Receiving a Class A bear license transfer via the Awarded Permit Transfers Program or through Deceased Customer Preference Approval Transfer [PDF].
Applications are required for a Class A license or to receive a preference point. Hunters must apply at least once during a period of three consecutive years, otherwise, all previously accumulated preference points will be lost. Sign up to receive an email when the 2021 bear permit application opens.