LINCOLN COUNTY (WAOW) -- Some drivers said they've seen more bears on the roads lately. Authorities report several cars have crashed into them in the past week.
Last week, leaders with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department said at least four bears were hit by cars. A couple of those crashes happened around Highway 51 and County Road S near Tomahawk. Two of the bears hit were cubs.
"The bear population in Wisconsin seems to be fairly stable but it is expanding to more southern and central parts of the state," said DNR Wildlife Biologist Cortney Schaefer. "I think that certainly people that live within those portions of the state may be feeling like they are seeing more bears."
DNR leaders said even though there's not necessarily more bears wandering the Northwoods, the cubs may be on the move.
"We're just seeing bears travel further from where they're born," said Schaefer. "Those bears are just extending themselves down into central and southern Wisconsin to try to find more space for their own territories."
Hunters harvested more than 5,000 bears last year -- a record amount -- and DNR leaders said they could see those same numbers this fall. With higher harvest numbers, DNR leaders said the total number of bears could be up too. The DNR has a special process to keep track of bear populations. They mark baited food, then wait for the bears to find it.
"It doesn't hurt the bears at all but it does mark their bones and teeth with some small neon rings that can be seen through a microscope," said Schaefer.
Tomahawk travelers said they barely notice seeing them, compared to other animals around town. DNR leaders said bears can wander from the woods and into nearby roads. And the four-pawed creatures can do quite a bit of damage to your four-wheeled car.
But like any other animal in the wild, DNR leaders said you should keep your eyes peeled for bears while you're on the road.
Bear hunting season started earlier this month and continues through mid-October.
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