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Black bear hunting season opens Sept. 6

MADISON - The 2006 Wisconsin black bear hunting season opens Sept. 6 with 4,370 successful applicants heading to the woods with a harvest permit in their pocket.

More than 73,000 applied for the closely regulated hunt, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Hunters registered 2,645 bears in 2005. Wildlife managers estimate the 2006 Wisconsin black bear population at approximately 13,000, slightly up from last season's estimate say DNR officials.

"The outlook for the 2006 season is excellent," said Brad Koele, Department of Natural Resources assistant big game ecologist. "While bears have been observed in almost every area of the state, the northern third provides the best habitat and is the main range for this animal. It is where the majority of our harvest comes from."

For hunters hunting over bait or using other methods not including dogs, the 2006 bear hunting season begins Sept. 6. For hunters using dogs, the season opens Sept. 13.

Also new this year, the "no dog" portion of Zone A has been eliminated. Hunting with the aid of dogs is now allowed in all areas of Zone A.