Overview of Wisconsin Black Bear Hunting

Black Bears within Wisconsin’s occupied range is expanding, which means residents can expect to see black bears in areas outside of the bear’s traditional range. An abundant population and suitable bear habitat have facilitated the southerly movement of occupied bear range in Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s black bear population is considerably higher than it was 30 years ago. Wisconsin’s bear population was estimated to be about 9,000 bears in 1989. The most recent data indicates the bear population is currently estimated to be just under 29,000 bears. DNR manages bear population size through regulated hunting. The number of hunting permits have steadily increased following studies showing higher numbers of bears. In the near future, opportunities will be provided to the public to comment on desired numbers of bears in each of the state’s bear management regions as the DNR prepares a new bear management plan.

wisconsin black bear distribution hunting zones map huntsplus hunts plus
black bear hunting zones wisconsin units game management areas seasons bears hunts plus
Wisconsin black bear zones pie chart
ref point

Important Dates:

  • Application Deadline: December 10th
  • Draw is held in February and successful applicants will be notified by mail.

Preference point success by zone

zone a
Zone B

Application Strategy

All units have a minimum preference point requirement for a successful draw, the least of which being Zone C with 1 point. Preference points held by an applicant are valid throughout the state.  This means, for example, that if you apply for Zone D one year, you could apply to Zone A, B, or C the following year and still hold that preference point.

Apply yearly as Wisconsin’s hunt application isn’t cost prohibitive. As you accrue points monitor changes in population density and success rates and change the zone for which you apply accordingly. 

Once drawn, an outfitter is strongly recommended. The success rate for non resident hunters without an outfitter is substantially less than those who hire someone familiar with the area that has put in countless hours scouting for your success.


To request notifications for upcoming application deadlines and draw dates please click the button below and submit the notification request form.