It's nearly official: Dane County is bear country - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

It's nearly official: Dane County is bear country

Courtesy: Joseph Kane Courtesy: Joseph Kane
Courtesy: Joseph Kane Courtesy: Joseph Kane
Verona (WKOW) -- Wildlife experts said more sightings of black bear in suburban Dane County indicated the appealing habitat of the area has lured more of the state's growing bear population south - possibly permanently.
A bear was sighted on a bike bath, near the downtown and in backyards in Verona over a twenty four hour period this week.
"I've been here sixteen years and I've never seen a bear,"   homeowner Mike Kane said after the bear perched on a canoe in his backyard.
"Man's taking over their territory, they're looking for a place to live obviously.   Little close to home,"   Kane said.

UW-Madison Wildlife Ecology assistant professor Tim Van Deelen said the increase in the visibility of bears in Dane County is not so much the result of encroachment on their habitat to the north, but more the steady increase in the statewide population of forty thousand black bear.
"The bears that we are seeing now are sort of the leading edge of a bear population that seems to be moving farther south."
Van Deelen said a similar migration is occurring in Michigan, which also resembles Wisconsin in providing bears a blend of wooded cover, increasingly unused farm land and enough stretches of forest to facilitate pathways south for the animals.
Van Deelen himself observed a juvenile black bear last month in backyards in Waunakee.   Waunakee police officials said it's a bear that appears to have returned to backyards in the same area early Friday morning.
Van Deelen described the bears sighted in Dane County as "exploring" for new habitat as a natural part of their maturation and separation from mother bears.   Van Deelen said these bears are young enough their aversion to contact with human beings is not as strong as with older bears.

Van Deelen said he would like to use GPS tracking on some of the bears sighted in this area to accurately pinpoint their expanding habitat.
"If we're going to tolerate bears, then we're going to have to learn to live with them."
Van Deelen said suburban Dane County residents near likely bear habitat should consider removing bird feeders this summer, holding off placing garbage outside until mornings, and generally keeping their properties clear of temptations as bears travel and seek sources of food.
Department of Natural Resources officials have largely left bears in suburban Dane County areas alone to traipse through and move on.   One bear identified as a potential problem in Wisconsin Dells has been the target of an effort to trap and relocate it.
Sandra Grieger-Block of Waunakee's Savannah Village development had never seen a bear on her property until Friday morning, when a bear plopped right next to her patio furniture.
"When you live near wildlife, you have an obligation to preserve things.   I just didn't know co-existence was going to be with something that large.
The bear in Verona visited Marilyn Brinkman's Jenna Drive backyard and feasted from one of her bird feeders, but she was hardly flustered.
"I think this is the coolest thing to happen in my backyard in a long time."

Online reporting by Tony Galli.


VERONA (WKOW) --- Verona Police say they received multiple calls overnight for bear sightings.

The first call was on Thursday around 4 a.m. when a resident on Jenna Drive looked out her window to see a bear by her bird feeder.

The second report was Thursday after 10 p.m. when residents say they saw the black bear on Nine Mound Road.  Sgt. Dart of Verona Police located the bear walking on the Military Ridge bike trail on Paoli Street.

DNR officials responded and saw the bear in a tree.  They identified it as a male adult black bear weighing about 150 pounds.

Officials decided to leave the bear as he was not posing a threat to the public.

Then another resident reported seeing the bear Thursday morning around 12:13 a.m. near St. Andrews Church.

 Verona Police ask anyone who sees the bear to call them at 845-7623.



VERONA (WKOW) --- DNR officials tell us residents in Verona reported seeing a bear Thursday night.  Greg Matthews with the DNR says they did not see the bear, but was told by witnesses it wandered off.

The DNR has also been told of sightings from residents in Watertown earlier in the week.  There are some reports of a bear being seen Thursday in Waunakee as well which would mean the bear in Verona would not be the same one that is being spotted in Waunakee.

DNR reminds residents to leave the bears alone if you see one and they will move on.


In May a black bear visited a Waunakee neighborhood. See story here.


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