Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Bear registrations down sharply

Abundant natural foods giving bears the advantage in opening days of the bear hunt

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 9/6/18

REGIONAL— A bumper crop of wild foods didn’t slow success for at least some hunters during the opening weekend of the Minnesota bear season. Eight of the ten hunters at Dennis Udovich’s hunting …

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Bear registrations down sharply

Abundant natural foods giving bears the advantage in opening days of the bear hunt

Posted

REGIONAL— A bumper crop of wild foods didn’t slow success for at least some hunters during the opening weekend of the Minnesota bear season. Eight of the ten hunters at Dennis Udovich’s hunting camp in Greaney bagged bears through the first four days of the hunt, with the largest male weighing in at 375 pounds. That success comes despite what Udovich described as “the best bumper crop of wild foods I’ve seen in over 20 years.”

While Udovich, an experienced guide, was able to adjust to the conditions and still find success, that proved the exception as bear registrations fell sharply through the first four days of the hunt, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Indeed, hunters registered just 744 bears, down dramatically from the 1,210 registered during the same period last year. It was the lowest opening weekend harvest since 2014.

The abundant food may be good news for female bears this season, as Udovich said it’s been mostly male bears showing up at bait stations so far. “We’re not seeing the females on our cameras,” he said. “When there is good food, the females are less vulnerable. The moms are teaching their cubs how to live off the land.”

That’s consistent with bear registrations elsewhere. Overall, male bears comprised 66 percent of the harvested animals, which is higher than last year’s percentage of males in the harvest.

Tower area DNR wildlife manager Tom Rusch agreed that an outstanding wild food crop is hampering hunter success. That could help the bear population show some recovery after years of low numbers, particularly with the lower harvest of females, whose survival is critical to population recovery.

Udovich said that’s something he’d like to see. “They harvested way too many for too long,” said Udovich, noting that liberal bag limits for several years slashed the state’s bear population roughly in half. The DNR has substantially cut the number of available permits in recent years, but high hunter success over the past few years have limited the population recovery even with the lower number of available permits.

Dennis Udovich

A lot of foods in the woods.

It’s the best I’ve seen in over 20 years.

It is a bumper crop out there.

We’ve been at this thing for over 35 years.

It’s always a challenge,

We’ve taken eight beras for ten hunters.

Everyone has had good opportunities.

When there is good food, the females are less vulnerable.

We’re not seeing them on our cameras.

The moms are teaching them how to live off the land.

Lots of hazelnuts

We’ve done well.

The dry weather

I’ve never seen so many blueberries in the spruce swamps as this year.

375 was our biggest male.

Had guys from all over the country in camp this year.

A good year for us.

Need to have water nearby. Bears need water with their food.

They harvested way too many for too long.

Reduced the population too much, now trying to recover.

Coons on every bait

The poor grouse have a tough time.

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