New York bear hunters killed 1,715 black bears during the 2015 hunting seasons, the second largest bear harvest on record in New York, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Only the 2003 harvest (1,863) surpassed the 2015 year’s take.
In the Northern Zone, a total of 583 bears were killed, 27 percent above the recent five-year average. Based primarily on cyclers of food availability, bear harvest in the Northern Zone tends to alternate between strong harvests during the early season one year followed by strong harvests during the regular season the next, according to DEC wildlife biologists. This year, hunters were more successful during the regular season, taking 253 bears, whereas 183 bears were taken during the early season.
Hunters killed a total of 1,132 black bears in the Southern Zone, approximately the same as in 2014, but about 30 percent greater than the recent five-year average take. Most bears (596) were taken during the regular season, followed by the bow season (327 bears). Hunters killed 192 bears during the early season, a decrease from 2014 but a significant portion of the total bear harvest. In those WMUs that have an early bear season, 36 percent of the total number of bears taken in those WMUs occurred during the early season.
•One bear per 3.0 square miles — the bear harvest density in Wildlife Management Unit 3K which includes portions of Sullivan and Orange counties. Within WMU 3K, the town of Tusten in Sullivan County produced one bear for every 2.2 square miles.
•179 — the number of bears reported taken on the opening day of the regular firearms season in the Southern Zone, representing 19 percent of the total Southern Zone bear harvest.
•520 pounds — the heaviest dressed weight bear reported to DEC in 2015, taken in the Town of Forestburg, Sullivan County. A 450-pound dressed weight bear was reported taken in the Town of Woodstock in Ulster County and three bears from Genesee, Orange, and St. Lawrence Counties dressed between 420-445 pounds. Scaled weights of dressed bears were submitted for 25 percent of the bears taken in 2015.
•17 — The number of tagged bears reported in the 2015 harvest. These included five bears that were originally tagged in Pennsylvania and two from New Jersey. The remainder were tagged in New York for a variety of reasons including research, nuisance response, relocated urban bears, or released rehabilitated bears.
A complete summary of the 2015 bear harvest with results and maps by county, town, and WMU is available at DEC’s website.