It's bear hunting season in Wisconsin. And for the first time ever, more permits have been issued.
Results from a recent study by Wildlife Management on bears in the state and reports of sightings from residents show that not only has the animal's population grown, it's spread south.
Historically, black bears have mostly roamed the northern part of Wisconsin. In recent years, there is proof that the animal is making its way to neighborhoods not yet occupied by other bears.
"There could be only so many bear in one area, they're not going to live in family groups forever, it's only while they're young," explains Warden Supervisor Randy Falstad. "And then the mama bear's going to kick the younger bears out. There's no territory for them to go, so they need to find a place to spread out into so they're going to areas where there aren't bear where they feel they can live in."
He says residents should remove their bird feeders and garbage cans from their yards to avoid bears getting at them and causing damage.
Drivers should also be extra cautious on the roads and slow down if you see a bear. If you hit a bear, don't swerve. Damage be significantly greater than hitting other animals, like a deer.
Because there is a higher number of bears in the area, the DNR has issued a record number of permits this year to help control the population. The bear hunting season runs through October 11.