In Wisconsin the Black Bear’s Natural Habitat is Under Threat Through Subsidizing Their Food Source for Hunting

Today, black bears in Wisconsin are being conditioned to search out human foods placed at bear baiting stations. This is influencing the black bears natural habitat. Researchers found that; humans are influencing the ecosystem not only through top-down forces via hunting, but also through bottom-up forces by subsidizing the food base.

Black bears are omnivorous and spend spring, summer & autumn foraging for Native Forage, included known bear foods; berries, acorns, grasses and sedges, other plants, and white-tailed deer.

In Autumn Black Bears search out natural forage such as apples & acorns. For hundreds of thousands of years black bears have lived by nature’s rhythms.

The baiting of black bear starts in April and goes through to the end of September. That’s roughly six months of intentional food subsidies being fed to a carnivore. Not to mention, that’s a lot of disruption to the black bear’s natural habitat. Over four million gallons of bait is dropped in the woods for the purpose of hunting black bear. Bears are fed donuts, gummy bears, and cereal. Donuts have a high volume of calories, some doughnuts contain partially hydrogenated oils, which aren’t healthy for the heart, and most doughnuts are made with white flour. Glazed doughnuts contain 210 mg of sodium.

The research was published last year in a research article, Consumption of intentional food subsidies by a hunted carnivore that reveals some startling results.

It’s no surprise that baiting black bear is a cause for alarm. It’s been controversial for a number of years. But what’s interesting now is the research points out a number of problems resulting from the baiting of black bear.

Female consumption of high caloric food subsidies can increase fecundity (the ability to produce an abundance of offspring or new growth; fertility), and can train cubs to seek bear baits. According to the research this can increase a population above its ecological carrying capacity.

More from WODCW’s Do not feed the bears.

You can help change this reckless policy of over-baiting Wisconsin’s black bear.

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin encourages citizens to contact the Bear Advisory Committee

Contact information

For information about the Bear Advisory Committee, contact:

Maggie Stewart

Assistant big game ecologist


The Bear Advisory Committee is a diverse group representing agency, non-agency, tribal and stakeholder interests. The committee meets to propose bear quota recommendations and advises the Wildlife Policy Team on a variety of topics such as population monitoring and research priorities. Department leadership considers proposed quotas in developing department recommendations for Natural Resources Board approval.

We must consider the life of every wild animal as an individual, who shares this planet and its resources along with us…human-animals. We must ‘do no harm! ~Rachel Tilseth

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin believes Compassionate Conservation is the future. WODCW believes in Compassionate Conservation developed by Born Free Foundation.

First, do no harm as a commitment to prioritising non-invasive approaches in conservation research and practice, and an acknowledgement that invasive interventions may harm individuals, populations, and ecosystems.

Individuals matter in conservation research and practice, not merely as units of species and populations, and should be treated with compassion both in the wild and in captivity

Valuing all wildlife as worthy of conservation effort, whether native or introduced, whether common or rare, and regardless of perceived usefulness to humans

Peaceful coexistence with wildlife is the ultimate aim guiding compassionate conservation practices

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