For several years the Village of Grantsburg experienced a high number of black bear complaints from residents when compared to other municipalities. To address these complaints, a variety of non-lethal abatement options were implemented including educational efforts, altering trash pick-up schedules, trapping and translocation, and limited lethal control. Even with these efforts, however, complaints continued.
The Sentinel spoke to Crex Meadows Wildlife Area Supervisor Steve Hoffman about the nuisance bears in the area. Most of them happened in the Wood River corridor.
“We’d get calls saying there’s a bear drinking out of our swimming pool and from the ground you would have no idea why the bear is coming through here,” Hoffman told the Sentinel in 2017. “But you look at it from above or a map you can easily see this corridor is what bear, deer, and other wildlife follow.”
In 2016, the Wisconsin DNR implemented a 2-year pilot project to assess the effectiveness of a bear removal program for reducing complaints. Under this pilot project, landowners owning five or more acres within approximately 1.5 miles of the village were eligible for a bear shooting permit. In 2016, 75 permits were available and in 2017, 100 permits were available. In 2016 and 2017, 14 and 9 bears were removed, respectively. After the implementation of the pilot project the number of complaints and management actions decreased from a high of 30 bear complaints, five bears translocated, and five bears euthanized in 2016 to one complaint and no bears translocated or euthanized in 2018. These results show that bear removal programs can effectively resolve chronic bear-human conflict issues in and around municipalities experiencing high levels of complaints. In the future, similar programs will be considered only after other bear-human conflict mitigation efforts have been unsuccessful.