Black bear populations are on the rise in Michigan, particularly in the northern Lower Peninsula.
The number of black bears one year and older in that region has soared since 2012 to over two thousand bears, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Upper Peninsula adult black bear populations are up to almost 10,000 bears.
The boom is strongest in northern Michigan in an area designated as the Baldwin Bear Management Unit. It spans 10 counties and uses a points-based, quasi-lottery draw to determine which hunters get licenses. The population growth is intentional, driven by the desire of the DNR and hunters to bolster the bear numbers. Hunters may have to wait 10 to 12 years just to obtain a license. Around 2800 hunters applied to hunt bear in the Baldwin unit last season; just 80 got permits.
Kevin Swanson is the DNR’s large-carnivore specialist. He says the department will give out more licenses this year to combat the population growth.
Swanson says he hopes the increased amount of hunters will help reduce the number of bear-related disturbances in communities across northern Michigan.