Conservation Director Tells TGB there are Too Many Bears on the Rez
By Joe Morey
On July 21, 2019, The LCO News published an article about the increasing amount of bears coming into LCO communities, at which time LCO Conservation Director Brian Bisonette reported that there were 30 bears in a 2-mile range from the Four Corners area.
On Monday, June 8, Bisonette once again came before the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) with concerns about nuisance bears on the reservation and stated that the number of bears has increased since last year.
“LCO is a safe haven, there is no hunting, they have predators,” Bisonette said. He explained Conservation will not take down any bears without approval from the TGB. He advised that members of the community need to keep an eye out when going outside and be aware when your children are outside.
“This is about the safety of the community and we’re not taking this lightly,” Bisonette said. He told the TGB about a 400 to 450 pound bear in the Drytown Community that has no fear of people. The bear has two tags on it, meaning it has already been tranquilized and relocated, but keeps coming back to the area.
“We may have to take this bear down, and if we do, we’d do it respectfully and responsibly,” Bisonette noted.
LCO Vice Chairwoman Lorraine Gouge said she would support it as long as all the resources of the bear are used. TGB Member Don Carley agreed, stating nuisance bears may have to be taken down to protect the community but the process must be done respectfully.
Bisonette said in July of last year that the bears are currently protected under the Conservation Code. The discussion was whether the Tribe should have a bear hunt to help reduce the overpopulation. He said the TGB would have to amend it for a hunt to take place.
The following is from last year’s article;
LCO Vice Chairwoman Lorraine Gouge stated there are many tribal members who are requesting a hunt. She said although she is Bear Clan, the amount of bears in the communities is a concern. She said she favors a limited hunt and absolutely no dogs.
Chairman Louis Taylor said a hunt may be necessary only for the public safety side of things.
“Our first priority is the nuisance bear in the community and how this could tie into our members need for subsistence if any,” Taylor said. “Would any of our members hunt bear for food? That's my question. We have a lot to think about.”
Bisonette said LCO Conservation has trapped at least 10 bears this year alone and relocated them but they came right back.
“I dread the day a kid gets maimed or killed by a bear,” Bisonette said.
Glenda Barber, TGB member, said it’s getting to the point that parents aren’t even afraid of the bears anymore and kids are taking the cue from their parents.
Bisonette suggested one option is a limited hunt to tribal members and issuing only 15 permits because we still need to keep a population of bears. He also said because bear hunting is highly controversial in our community, the TGB may want to consider a referendum of the membership.
Barber asked Bisonette if it was so much about an increased population in our area or did we do something to draw them in, such as throwing food away in the woods.
Bisonette said we are also keeping garbage in dumpsters that aren’t locked.
“We identified eight different bears on a camera we set up at the four corners,” Bisonette said. He explained that when the bears are captured, they are brought 60 miles away and they come back.
“The DNR said you could take the bears to Green Bay and within two weeks, they would be back,” Bisonette said.
The photos below were posted to Bear & Animal Sightings Facebook page of Drytown area sightings.
This bear has a tag in its ear. Photo by Rose Grover Sharlow