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September 14, 2010

MADISON - Hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts can help monitor and document the expanding distribution of black bears and bobcats in Wisconsin through a new on-line reporting form that allows the public to submit black bear and bobcat observations.

The Department of Natural Resources wildlife surveys section has developed a new bear and bobcat reporting application.

Black bears and bobcats are commonly found in the northern third of Wisconsin and much of the population for both species still resides in the northern counties. However, recent range expansion by both species has lead to more frequent sighting in southern counties.

Wildlife officials are looking for reports of black bear sightings within areas that are outside of their normal range, particularly areas designated as "occasional" and "rare" on the distribution map. Bobcat sightings are to be reported statewide.

"Direct observations from the field can provide important information for black bear and bobcat managers in tracking their movements," said Jes Rees DNR wildlife survey technician. "Bears tend to be more visible as they distribute into new areas but bobcats are solitary secretive animals, and tracking their distribution is often difficult."

Since March 2010, DNR biologists have documented reports of bear sightings within areas designated as "occasional" and "rare" on the distribution map. The list of sightings is an informal collection of reports received from e-mails, telephone calls, and reports taken from the media. Reports from areas of the state where bears are "common" or "abundant" were not collected.

Citizen monitoring has proven to be a valuable tool in resource management and an opportunity for interested citizens to contribute to our knowledge of wildlife and habitat trends," said Brian Dhuey, DNR wildlife surveys coordinator.

In addition to this new bear and bobcat monitoring effort the department has recently initiated citizen monitoring opportunities intended to collect more information on trends in deer reproductive success by reporting does and fawns seen together during the late summer and early fall, and 2010 will be the second season for the Hunter Wildlife Observation Survey which asks deer hunters to report on nine different wildlife species observed during the deer hunting seasons.

The department's Bureau of Endangered Resources has a Rare Mammal Observation form for to report sightings of wolf, moose, cougar, lynx, wolverine, marten, or Franklin's ground squirrel.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jes Rees (608) 221-6360 or Brian Dhuey (608) 221-6342

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 14, 2010

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