Black bear hunting seasons open this weekend in the southeastern part of the state and next weekend in the North Country.
In northern New York, the early bear season runs from Sept. 14 to Oct. 18 in WMUs 5A, 5C, 5F, 5G, 5H, 5J, 6C, 6F, 6H, and 6J. Bowhunting season for bears also begins on Sept. 14, in the other Northern Zone units (WMUs 6A, 6G, 6K, and 6N). Muzzleloader season then opens in all northern WMUs on Oct. 19, followed by the regular firearms season for bears on Oct. 26.
During the early season, bear hunters may use a bow (with appropriate bowhunting eligibility), crossbow, muzzleloader, handgun, shotgun, or rifle (where allowed).
The early bear hunting season is used by wildlife managers to control bear populations. Bears are feeding heavily this time of year, gorging on wild nuts, berries and apples. Hunters increase their odds of finding a bear by locating their concentrated natural food sources.
Hunters are required to report their bear harvest within seven days, and DEC also encourages hunters to submit a premolar tooth and the scaled-dressed weights of the bears they harvest. DEC uses the tooth to determine the bear’s age and weight to monitor physical condition. This data is important for DEC biologists to monitor bear population dynamics and trends. Hunters who report their harvest and submit a premolar tooth from the bear are eligible to receive a commemorative NYS Black Bear Management Cooperator Patch.
DEC regulates black bear hunting to manage populations. Information about black bear hunting in New York, including season dates regulations, is available on DEC’s website. Additionally, DEC’s booklet Hunting the Black Bear in New York (PDF), includes tips on bear hunting and proper care of harvested bears.
Photo of black bear provided by DEC.