Bear killed on Interstate 43 this morning - 1

Following several recent black bear sightings across the state, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is reminding the public to take precautions for avoiding potential conflicts this summer.

MILWAUKEE COUNTY — A black bear was struck and killed at approximately 1:09 a.m. this morning on Interstate 43 at the Hales Corners interchange.

The incident occurred in Milwaukee County between Greenfield, Milwaukee and Hales Corners — east of New Berlin. 

According to James Burnett III, director, public affairs & community engagement with the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, the black bear was struck and killed by a truck traveling from north to east in the interchange.


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One lane was closed for approximately one hour while the bear was removed and the Department of Natural Resources was notified. 

“No related injures to people were reported. And no other information is available at this time from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.”

Randy Johnson, large carnivore specialist with the DNR, said that although early reports indicated the bear weighed at least 250 pounds, it actually weighed 150 pounds. The bear is a young male. 

“The DNR became aware of the vehicle-killed bear early this morning and coordinated with the Sheriff’s Department to respond,” Johnson said. “DNR removed the bear from the highway and took it to a DNR office. We will try to salvage the bear to be used as an educational specimen.”

Sightings

Recent bear sightings have been reported throughout southeast Wisconsin in recent weeks.

Most recently, a bear was reportedly seen in Franklin on Tuesday morning and Elkhorn on Friday. Prior to that, an Eagle resident spotted bear feces in their yard. A bear also wandered through a yard near Hartford on June 3 and one was spotted in Oconomowoc the previous day.

Johnson said that the DNR cannot be certain, however, they believe the bear killed on the highway is the same one that had been spotted in Franklin. Based on other reports, they believe there is likely another bear still moving across southeastern Wisconsin. The public can continue to report sightings to the DNR with the Large Mammal Observation report at: https://bit.ly/3QCGBnj.

Johnson said bears killed by a vehicle are not nearly as common as a deer hit on the highway, however, the DNR does have a fair number of bears that are killed on the roadway each year. Approximately 100 bears were removed from the highway last year, all in the northern part of the state.

“We see a few bears in southern Wisconsin every year,” he said. “These remain rare events in southern Wisconsin, yet also individual bears are expected to occur every year in southern WI. These reports typically occur this time of year as young bears strike out on their own looking for a territory of their own.”

Johnson said Wisconsin has about 24,000 bears in the state based on population models. Over the last several decades there has been an increases in abundance and distribution in the state. Johnson said the trend of bear populations expanding is common across the U.S. and is the “result of favorable available habitat and science-based wildlife management.”