Regulated hunts of carnivores are believed to prevent property damage and other conflicts with people. Few studies have tested if public hunting reduces subsequent complaints about carnivores. We analyzed 10 years of data on nuisance complaints from a hunted American black bear (Ursus americanus) population in Wisconsin, USA. At the statewide scale, complaints about agricultural damage, other property damage, or human safety concerns did not correlate with each other or with number of bears taken by hunters in the preceding 1–2 years. At the smaller scale of bear management zones, there were positive correlations between the number of bears taken by hunters in one year and all categories of nuisance complaints in subsequent years. Once corrected for the estimated bear population size, only property damage retained a significant positive correlation with hunter take in prior years. Age and sex profiles of bears taken by hunters differed significantly from those of bears live-trapped around sites of nuisance complaints. Hunters took significantly younger bears and a lower proportion of males. The most common method (shooting over bait) produced age–sex profiles most different from bears live-trapped after nuisance complaints. Although hunters removed 356 bears implicated in nuisance complaints, they took these bears in proportion to their availability. We conclude that the Wisconsin bear-hunting season did not show clear evidence of reducing nuisance complaints during 1995–2004, probably because hunting was not effectively designed for that goal. We call for additional research on hunter and bear behavior, including experimental tests of hunting individuals with different levels of involvement in property damage.
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Vol. 21 • No. 1