The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that bear hunters in New York State killed 1,539 black bears during the 2016 hunting seasons.
Hunters took a total of 1,025 black bears in the Southern Zone, about 10 percent fewer than in 2015, but slightly more than the recent five-year average. Nearly equal numbers of bears were killed during the bow season, 379 bears, and regular season, 398 bears. The early season, which occurs only in a handful of management units in the Catskill region, yielded 228 bears.
In the Northern Zone, 514 bears were killed, approximately 12 percent fewer than in 2015, but on par with the historical average. Bear hunting in the Northern Zone tends to alternate between strong takes during the early season one year, followed by strong takes during the regular season the next year, based primarily on cycles of food availability. In 2016, hunters were most successful during the early season, killing 238 bears, while the regular season produced 167 bears.
New in 2016, junior hunters were allowed to kill black bears during the Youth Firearms Big Game Hunt over Columbus Day weekend. That hunt overlapped with the early bear season in the Northern Zone.
The heaviest dressed weight bear reported to DEC in 2016 was 555 pounds, killed in the town of Brandon, Franklin County. A 540-pound dressed weight bear was reportedly taken in the town of Walton in Delaware County, and seven bears were reported with dressed weights between 400-500 pounds. Scaled weights of dressed bears were submitted for 22 percent of the bears killed in 2016.
According to DEC, 25 tagged bears were killed by hunters in the 2016 harvest. These included six bears originally tagged in Pennsylvania, five from New Jersey, and one from Vermont. The remainder were originally 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 2016 bear harvest with results and maps by county, town, and Wildlife Management Unit is available here.
Chart provided by DEC.