Spring weather has bears on the move

BALDWIN  — It’s a rather slow time in the hunting ranks right now with sportsmen getting ready for the turkey season which begins on April 18.

But as area DNR wildlife technician Katie Keen points out, that doesn’t mean there’s no wildlife activity taking place.

“Bears are starting to show their presence again,” she said. “We’re getting reports of them being up and active.”

Keen said residents need to keep in mind important factors this time of year regarding bear movement.

“Now’s the time of year to take in that feeder that you’ve had out all winter,” she said. “We’ve started in the last several weeks to get reports of bears up and moving and coming out of their dens, and they’re hungry looking for food.

“They don’t all become active at the same time. But this is that general time where we’re starting to hear reports, especially because we have snow on the ground and folks are seeing their tracks. They tend to stick out a little more. So get those feeders down and put them away. Bird feed is a big attraction to bears, right behind garbage. Think about how you’re keeping your garbage. Put it up the morning of (delivery). But other than that, keep it indoors so bears aren’t using it as a food source.”

For turkey hunters with permits, the first season in this areas is April 18-24, followed by April 25 to May 1. There were 4,000 licenses issued the first season and 4,500 for the second. The 0234 hunt is May 2-31 when permits are sold as leftover licenses and there is no quota. Licenses can be purchased during the whole season.

“We have turkeys out moving and strutting and we’re seeing them out in the field now,” Keen said. “There are remaining licenses still available. You can go online and see all remaining spring licenses for the short seven-day early hunts. Everyone can do 0234. It’s a limit of one bearded turkey. We get that question every day. We’re getting excited that turkey season is not that far away.”

Keen acknowledged that it’s been a good winter for wildlife survival.

“At this point, it looks like it should be,” Keen said. “The only concern is that animals had to tap into reserves through winter, either to find food or keep themselves warm. They might have to use more energy. It doesn’t look like that’s the case. Even now, with the snow on the ground, it’s warmer. The animals should come out of this winter being healthy.”