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Applications are now available for 2011 bear season

Applications for this fall's bear hunt are available at any Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) license agent.

New this year is a requirement that hunters who are selected in the annual lottery purchase their licenses by Friday, July 29.

The remaining licenses can be made available to other hunters.

Applications for this year's bear hunt, which runs from Thursday, Sept. 1, to Sunday, Oct. 16, will be accepted through Friday, May 6.

A total of 7,050 licenses are available in 11 permit areas. Although almost 2,500 fewer bear licenses are available this year over last year's total of 9,500, the drop isn't as dramatic as it appears, said Dan Stark, DNR wildlife specialist.

Until this year DNR officials adjusted the number of licenses available upward because about 30 percent of successful applicants did not purchase a license. By implementing the purchasing deadline and allowing unclaimed licenses to be sold, the number of licenses is expected to better reflect the actual number of bear hunters.

"Historically, unclaimed licenses went unused because only successful lottery applicants could buy them," Stark said.

In 2010, 7,086 hunters actually purchased a license. Those hunters were chosen from a pool of 18,647 applicants for the available 9,500 permit area licenses. Hunters harvested a total of 2,699 bears.

Following the July 29 deadline, anyone who applied for a license but was not selected may purchase any remaining licenses starting at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 3. If licenses still remain, any hunters who did not participate in the lottery may purchase a license starting at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 10.

Bear licenses cost $38 for residents and $200 for nonresidents. The bag limit is two bears in the no-quota area and one bear in all quota permit areas.

Stark said bear harvest goals remain essentially unchanged from the 2010 season, with the exception of permit area 24. In this area, hunter numbers will be reduced to allow the black bear population to increase.

Complete information on the fall bear hunt is available on the DNR website.