New York bear hunters took 1,358 black bears during the 2013 hunting seasons, making last year the second highest bear harvest on record in New York. The bear take in the Adirondacks however, continues to decline.
According to Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) wildlife managers, the high take elsewhere in the state is a result of increased bear populations and the abundance of hard mast that kept bears actively feeding later into the fall when deer season was open.
In the Adirondack bear hunting area, hunters took a total of 380 bears, fewer than the recent 5-year average, and far fewer than last year’s take of 606. Early season only accounted for 84 bears taken, approximately 65 percent below average. In contrast, hunters took 246 bears during the regular season, about 13 percent greater than the five-year average. In 2010 the Adirondack take was down approximately 35% from 2009. In 2011, the bear take in the Adirondack region dropped to a level not seen since 1998.
A complete summary of the 2013 bear harvest with results by county, town, and Wildlife Management Unit is available on the DEC website.
NYS Black Bear Management Plan
In January, DEC released a draft black bear management plan for public review and comment. The plan describes DEC’s approach to bear management which includes population management through regulated hunting, mitigation of human-bear conflicts, and technical guidance and outreach to the public about bears and conflict avoidance. The plan proposed several changes to bear hunting, including expanding the area open to bear hunting to encompass all of upstate New York and establishing a supplemental firearms season in September for bears in the Catskill and lower Hudson Valley region. DEC is reviewing the comments received on the plan and anticipates publishing a final version of the plan this spring. The draft plan is available on the DEC website.
NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch Program
Hunters greatly influence bear management through reporting of their bear kills. Others also submit a tooth sample from their bear for DEC to determine the age of harvested bears. For all hunters who report their harvest and submit a tooth, 680 hunters in 2013, DEC provides a NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch and a letter informing them of their bear’s age. DEC is still processing tooth submissions from 2013 and anticipates hunters will receive their patch by September 2014.
Photo courtesy a NYS Museum Trail Camera.