Bemidji area hunters harvested 69 bear after four days of the season, a 25.5 percent increase over last year's four-day figure of 55.
Although the four-day total is higher than last fall hunters may have a tough time reaching the total 2010 harvest of 225. After nine days of the 2010 season Bemidji area hunters had shot 156 bears and to duplicate that figure this season hunters would need to harvest 69 bears on Thursday and today.
"Many hunters are reporting that the season is going slowly but others are reporting bears at their baits," said Blane Klemek, the Bemidji Area DNR Assistant Wildlife Manager. "Bear hunters are intense early in the season and most of the bears are harvested during the first two weeks. After that hunters seem to have many conflicts."
Also slowing the harvest is an abundance of acorns that currently are falling off the oaks. When there is an abundance of a natural food source bears are less likely to visit bait stations and the harvest drops.
"Some of the fruits this year were not very abundant but acorns are some of the most sought-after food for bear and other animals and right now the acorns are dropping off the trees," Klemek said. "The hunting records indicate that every other year there seems to be a higher bear harvest and the harvest seems to be related to the natural food abundance."
Village One Stop in Kelliher is the seven-day leader in terms of bear registrations this year as 13 successful hunters registered their bears at that location.
Officials at Timberline Sports in Blackduck have registered 10 bears while Northern Bait and Convenience has been the station for eight hunters and Rock Creek near the north entrance to Lake Itasca State Park has been the station for seven successful hunters.