2016 Michigan bear hunting season now complete

With more than half of Michigan’s counties open to bear hunting, bear harvest is an important management tool to maintain a healthy bear population that is in balance with its habitat.

Nearly 6,900 successful bear applicants received bear hunting licenses for staggered hunting seasons that started as early as Sept. 9 and ended as late as Oct. 26.

“Michigan’s black bear season is designed to provide a quality hunt,” said Department of Natural Resources bear specialist Kevin Swanson. “With many different hunting seasons kicking off in September, we spread out the effort of bear hunters and the end result is an impressive success rate.”

Bear seasons are set by bear management unit, with a quota of licenses available by area. Michigan has 10 bear management units, with the majority of bear licenses available in the Upper Peninsula, where the majority of the black bear population is found.

“We estimate the adult bear population in the U.P. to be approximately 9,700 individuals and the Lower Peninsula to be about 2,000 bear,” said Swanson. “Because of the population differences, a majority of the harvested bear come from the Upper Peninsula.”

See 2016 bear hunting license quotas and drawing results.

Official bear harvest information will be available in early 2017, when all bear harvest surveys and mandatory bear check information is compiled. Preliminary harvest information suggests that bear hunters have had good success, and many have shared stories of their hunts at the mandatory bear check or by phone calls and email. Within 72 hours of harvest, every successful bear hunter must visit a bear check station, give information about their hunt, and a small non-functional tooth is collected to determine the bear’s age and to provide a DNA sample.

Don’t forget to apply for your 2017 bear preference points from May 1 to June 1. Learn about the bear drawing with this video and sign up to receive DNR email to stay informed and never miss an application period again.