MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials are encouraging residents to report any black bear den locations they have found across the state to help an ongoing study.
The Black Bear Litter and Diet Survey is in its second year.
Its goal is to "generate new estimates of black bear reproductive rates within each bear management zone, and these estimates will improve the accuracy of the population models used in each zone," according to a news release.
Researchers are also investigating a connection between bears eating "human food" and how it affects cub survival rates and litter sizes.
“Public reporting is essential to this project. You don’t find bear dens every day, so it is important that people report them to us when they find them,” said DNR Large Carnivore and Elk Research Scientist, Dr. Jennifer Price Tack, in the release. “Reporting dens helps us meet the sample size requirements for our study and increases the accuracy of the black bear population model.”
Officials encourage the public to report information about a black bear den they may have seen this year or if they recall locations from recent years.
Researchers say black bears will sometimes reuse dens from prior years.
DNR does not want people appoaching or disturbing the dens.
During the first year of the study, research teams successfully GPS-collared 13 female black bears. The survey teams will continue to study black bear dens for the next seven to eight years. Over that span, the team hopes to get 100 collars on bears across each of the management zones in the state.
“We completed all surveys without any safety issues. That’s huge. We put a lot of work into minimizing the risks to people and bears, and we will continue to make that a priority in coming years,” said Price Tack in the release.