A portion of Larry Tobin's Ups-n-Downs column from June 17, 2008:
Once again it’s been shown that hunters and people in the Northwoods are smarter than the Department of Natural Resources, or at least smarter than the DNR thinks we are.
Timothy Van Deelen, a wildlife ecology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has coordinated a study that determined there are at least twice as many black bears in the state as what DNR wildlife “experts” estimated. Van Deelen’s study suggests there are about 26,000 bears roaming the state.
Hopefully, that will lead to more hunting permits for bears in the near future and maybe that will mean that I won’t have to wait eight years to get my next tag like I did for the last one.
Just about anyone who spends time in Northern Wisconsin has seen plenty of bears or has had run-ins with them. Two falls back, when I had a bear tag, I saw 10 identifiably different bears from a single stand in eight sittings. That’s a lot of bears coming to one stand.
Then last fall while bowhunting for deer, I saw five bears in 24 sittings. That’s nearly as many as the number of deer I saw. I don’t think I’ve seen that many bears while deer hunting at my cabin in 15 years previously. Only the turkeys are more of a nuisance while deer hunting.
And the buggers are being a real nuisance there this year already. Even though there has been nothing for them to eat, they’ve been tearing up my porch, including two more of the remaining screens. They’d already torn up three screens that I never replaced. They had plenty of room to enter and leave through open porch windows but, no, they had to go in through one closed one and out another. I wonder where you can buy prison bars?
And just this past weekend, I gathered information that further can attest to the validity of Van Deelen’s study. I placed a trail camera at the edge of one of my food plots three weeks earlier. Over the weekend I changed discs and checked out what was on it. Every critter pictured in the field was a bear. One was a sow with three cubs. Not one deer!
Personally, I think the DNR critter counters ought to be re-introduced to elementary arithmetic. It’s now been verified that Wisconsin has twice as many bears as DNR counted; most of us in the Northwoods know that there are probably twice as many wolves as DNR counted; and we also know that, in our part of the state, at least, there are half as many deer! What makes it even scarier is when you consider what they may be doing with our tax dollars in their budget….
I did find out that one rumor circulating is just that – a rumor. The DNR has no plans to introduce snakes of any kind to stem the growing turkey population anywhere in the state.
On the other hand, I do think they ought to increase the number of tags available around here for turkeys as well as bears. I went to Kansas to hunt the birds a number of times and I’m convinced there are more turkeys in Wisconsin than there are in Kansas. Yet even non-residents can purchase two tags over the counter in Kansas. Here everything’s on a draw.