The baiting of Wisconsin’s black bear has become a cause for concern.

The baiting of black bears 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 are dropped in the woods to hunt black bears. 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.

Black bears are omnivores that eat food of both plant and animal origin.

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

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.

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

The following North American Bear Center video follows a bear’s natural foraging habits.


Today, black bears in Wisconsin are being conditioned to search out human foods placed at bear-baiting stations. This is influencing the black bear’s natural habitat. Researchers found that humans affect the ecosystem through top-down forces via hunting and bottom-up forces by subsidizing the food base.

The Researchers found that if food subsidies (bait) were removed, bear-human conflicts may increase, and bears may no longer be able to subsist on natural foods.

The high availability of energy-rich food can also alter the denning chronology, shortening the denning period.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources estimates; most recent data  in 2019 indicates the bear population is estimated to be just under 29,000. DNR manages bear population size through regulated hunting. In the end, black bears are managed for economic gain through hunting.

Photo credit Bill Lea.

Individual species should and must be managed for the good of the species and the habitat on which it depends.  “Do not feed the wildlife.”  Let’s bring back the heart of conservation. We love our Black Bears!

Can we learn from our past mistakes? Don’t feed the bears! Watch the following video.

For more information Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Black Bear Management



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