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DNR to host "Be Bear Aware" webinar


Every spring and summer, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and USDA-Wildlife Services get hundreds of calls about conflicts with black bears.

Wisconsin has a stable bear population of about 24,000 animals.

That’s a lot of bear, says DNR Wildlife Damage and Nuisance Specialist Brad Koele, and a lot of bears means a lot of opportunities for conflict.

That’s why the DNR is hosting its first ever “Be Bear Aware” webinar with experts to teach the public about co-existing with bears.

“Typically in the spring we have a lot of bear conflicts, so it’s a way to learn proactive measures that homeowners can take to avoid negative interactions and conflicts with bear,” Koele says.

Koele says the biggest step to take to avoid encounters with bear is to take inventory of potential food sources for bears and get rid of them, especially at this time when bears are coming out of hibernation hungry.

“Look for potential food opportunities. The biggest ones are bird feeders, garbage cans put out for garbage pickup, grills, if people feed pets outside, the bears will sometimes find pet food,” he says. “So do a good inventory around your house to find those attractants and food sources for bear and remove them and make them inaccessible.”

Koele says of the 700 phone calls about bear disturbances the DNR receives each year, about 70 percent can be resolved by taking simple precautions like this.

If those measures don’t work, the DNR can step in to trap and relocate the bear to a wilderness area.

The “Be Bear Aware” webinar will be held on April 19 at 6 p.m. Join via Zoom here (Join by phone: 877 853 5257; Webinar ID: 886 3482 8734).

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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