Category Archives: Bears

Human food subsidies make up more than 40% of the diet of bears in northern Wisconsin.

In a new research paper, titled “Consumption of intentional food subsidies by a hunted carnivore” authored by: Rebecca Kirby of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jonathan Pauli assistant professor with the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, and David MacFarland Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources large carnivore specialist. The Journal of Wildlife Management

The researchers documented the abundance of bear bait on forestlands, to determine the contribution of human foods to individual and population diets. That bear baiting on public lands contributed to 40% of their diet. They found that bears were relying on (human foods) subsidies throughout their lifetimes. 
Bears using baits in northern Wisconsin may be contributing to Wisconsin’s high population density compared to neighboring states. 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. Long-term supplementation can increase a population above its ecological carrying capacity. Extensive foraging on bear bait could affect individual bear nutrition through increased body sizes and energy requirements. Increased energy requirements and habituation may create a dependency on food subsidies; if food subsidies were removed, bear-human conflicts may increase and bears may no longer be able to subsist on natural foods.  High availability of energy-rich food can also alter denning chronology, shortening the denning period. In northern Wisconsin, humans are influencing the ecosystem not only through top-down forces via hunting, but also through bottom-up forces by subsidizing the food base. Researcers’ findings emphasize the need to understand what effects conservation and management strategies that feature human subsidies can have on wildlife, particularly how they alter behavior, population sizes, and demographic parameters. Consumption of intentional food subsidies by a hunted carnivore


Is it time to reevaluate black bear baiting in Wisconsin?  Please contact WDNR Bear Advisory Committee

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.

Contact information
For information about the Bear Advisory Committee, contact:

Dave MacFarland

Carnivore specialist



Action Alert: Stop the inhumane and scientifically unjustified killing methods on Alaska’s grizzly bears and wolves 

Oppose H.J. Res. 69 Humane Society of the U.S. February 14, 2017

Congress seeking to unwind decision by professional wildlife managers and restart inhumane and unethical hunting practices on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska

Congressional Review Act used to put American wildlife icons in line of fire

The Humane Society of the United States launched a hard-hitting television advertising campaign to stop a movement in Congress to allow egregious killing methods targeting grizzly bears and wolves in Alaska on National Wildlife Refuges – the one category of federal lands specifically set aside for the benefit of wildlife.

A commercial depicting the wolf cubs and bears killed in their dens or scouted by planes or baited and killed in other cruel ways under Congressional Review Act Joint Resolution H.J. Res. 69 will run on CNN, FoxNews, and MSNBC in the first go-around for this campaign.

“Killing hibernating bears, shooting wolf pups in their dens, and chasing down grizzlies by aircraft and then shooting them on the ground is not the stuff of some depraved video game,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “It is exactly what Don Young is trying to restore on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska. No decent person should support this appalling, despicable treatment of wildlife.”

Specifically, H.J. Res. 69 would overturn the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s rule prohibiting inhumane and scientifically unjustified killing methods – including shooting or trapping wolves while at their dens in the spring when they are rearing pups, using airplanes to scout for grizzly bears to shoot, trapping of bears with cruel steel-jawed leghold traps and wire snares, and luring grizzly bears with food to get a point blank kill – on over 76 million acres of special federal lands in Alaska. The rule does not apply to subsistence hunting or restrict the killing of wildlife for public safety purposes or defense of property. The professional wildlife managers within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service drove this policy, after attempting to work with Alaska’s Board of Game for years.

H.J. Res. 69 would also block the Administration from ever issuing a rule on this topic, leaving the power to pass a law prohibiting these egregious hunting methods solely in the hands of Congress.   

Most Alaskans favor the rule and object to these barbaric practices. A 2016 poll conducted by Remington Research Group showed that Alaska voters strongly support eliminating these cruel and unsporting practices used to kill bears and wolves on National Wildlife Refuges in their state. “Driving down grizzly bear and wolf numbers on refuges is a prescription for drying up tourism and starving the gateway communities that benefit immensely from tourist dollars,” added Pacelle.  

Alaskan non-profit organizations including Alaskans FOR Wildlife, Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Friends of Alaska Wildlife Refuges, Lynn Canal Conservation, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Oasis Earth, Resurrection Bay Conservation Alliance, Sierra Club – Alaska Chapter and the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council support the FWS rule and oppose H.J. Res. 69. 

Media Contact: Anna West: 301-258-1518;


Featured image by John E Marriott