Bears might be hard to come by as hunting season opens

Minnesota's black bears have a plentiful berry crop this season, which is good for them. Maybe not so good for Minnesota hunters, whose bear season begins Sunday.

Hunters attract bears to the kill by placing piles of food in the woods. That technique works best when bears are hungriest.

"So when you have a lot of natural foods like berries and acorns, bears are less attracted to those bait stations and so therefore hunters are less successful," said Minnesota DNR wildlife population and regulation manger Steve Merchant.

"It's my understanding that this year we've got a really good berry crop, so at least in places where that berry crop is really high I expect that bear hunters might be a bit challenged to get bears to come in to their bait."

This year the DNR reduced the number of hunting permits by about 35 percent - to 3,750.

""We'd like to see a few more older, more reproductively fit bears in the population so that the population actually is producing more bears which ultimately would allow for additional hunting opportunities," Merchant said.

The DNR estimates there are about 15,000 black bears in Minnesota.

The bear season ends October 13th.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.