By Joe Morey News Editor
The topic of a limited bear hunt due to the increasing amount of bears coming into LCO communities was discussed at the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) meeting on Monday, July 15, between council members and LCO Conservation Director Brian Bisonette.
“There are so many bears coming into communities, every day we get bear complaints,” stated Bisonette. “Bears are protected under the Conservation Code. TGB would have to amend it for a hunt to take place.”
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, LCO Tribal Governing Board 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.
Taylor stated a bear recently in his yard seemed like it was tamed. “He just kept hanging around where kids were playing and wasn’t scared.”
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.
“The DNR is currently doing a bear population assessment,” Bisonette said. He explained that LCO participated by constructing four sites where bait was used and barbed wire was placed 17 inches of the ground to collect hair samples that were sent in. Bisonette said it tells how many different bears were at each site.
“We have more bears per capita than anywhere else in our area,” Bisonette stated.
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 TGB asked Bisonette to come up with some options.
Since the meeting, Bisonette indicated the staff at LCO Conservation has held many discussions about different options to present to the TGB.
“I am still in the process of reviewing other tribes bear hunting regulations in order to ensure we put forth a comprehensive plan to the Governing Board in the event they choose to proceed with a hunt in the future,” Bisonette said.
These bears were spotted in the dumpster by the LCO School Maintenance building.
This bear was recently removed from the Whitefish area by LCO Conservation.