Applications for Minnesota bear hunting licenses are available beginning Monday, April 1, and will be accepted through Friday, May 3, the Department of Natural of Resources (DNR) said.
A total of 3,750 licenses are available in 11 permit areas. The number of available licenses for 2013 is about 35 percent fewer than the 6,000 licenses available in 2012.
The 2012 bear harvest was 2,604. That was a 22 percent increase from 2011, despite 15 percent fewer bear quota licenses being available. The increase in harvest for 2012 was largely due to poorer fall food conditions, making bears more attracted to hunters’ baits.
The DNR’s goal with the lower license quotas is to allow for a gradual increase in the current bear population.
“Although the trends in the last few years indicate a stable bear population, DNR is reducing bear license numbers in the quota bear area to increase bear population numbers,” said Dan Stark, DNR large carnivore specialist. “After intensive efforts in the 1990s and early 2000s to reduce a growing bear population, we are now at or near population goals. These quotas will help assure that we continue to have a productive bear population.”
DNR monitors the bear population using a modeling technique based on ages of harvested bears, supplemented periodically by total population estimates based on mark-recapture data. Bear ages are determined from tooth samples that hunters are required to submit.
Notification to successful lottery winners will be made in mid- to late May. The deadline to purchase licenses awarded by lottery will be Thursday, Aug. 1. Any remaining unpurchased licenses will be available to any eligible persons starting at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 7.
Application for a bear license can be made at any DNR license agent, the DNR License Center in St. Paul, online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense or by phone at 888-665-4236. Bear licenses cost $44 for residents and $250 for nonresidents. There is a $4 application fee.
An unlimited number of bear licenses also will be available over the counter for the no quota area of east-central and far northwestern Minnesota. The bag limit in the no quota area is being reduced from two to one.