Eastern Wildlife Damage Control Conferences


Date of this Version

February 1991


Black bear (Ursus americanus) are common in northern Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has established a population goal of 6,000 bears across 46,361 km2 of bear range. Bear damage to agriculture occurred for over 50 years, and various strategies have been used to address these problems. Bear damage to agricultural c and livestock became eligible for reimbursement by the state in 1939. The legislature terminated this program in 1980 in fate of a new program that placed greater emphasis on damage prevention than on compensation. Since 1984, WDNR has bear damage primarily through abatement practices including electric fencing, scare devices, repellents, trapping and translocation problem bears, and damage compensation provided by the Wildlife Damage Abatement and Claims Program (WDA Recently, United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Damage Control has become an increasingly important partner with WDNR and WDACP counties in providing bear damage program serving Wisconsin bear management and damage costs total about $250,000 annually in 23 counties. Annual levels of assessed dam vary greatly from year to year, averaging $5,400 per county per year, with WDACP program costs averaging about $2,000 county per year. Annual state costs for trapping and relocation of problem bears are approximately $70,000. Bear depredation to sheep have drastically declined, from 52% of claims between 1939-1956 to less than 2% from 1986 through 1990, because of decreases in stock-sheep numbers and improved husbandry. Corn damage has dramatically increased, from 10% between 1939-1956 to 65% of damage claims during 1986-1990, due to increased use of short-maturity corn varieties during the late 197 to the present. The attraction of bear to these varieties may require planting schemes to divert damage away from fields with lure crops. The primary abatement practice is culvert trapping and translocation. Wisconsin will continue to seek improvement and adjustment of its bear damage management program.