Bear Season Total Reaches 489

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The number of black bears taken by Vermont hunters reached a total of 489 as of December 5.

"This is Vermont's third bear harvest in a row over 400," said wildlife biologist Scott Darling, who chairs the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department's bear team. "Prior to these last three years, the only time the bear kill went over 400 was in 1966."

"Recent higher bear harvests are indicative of Vermont?s growing bear population and our commitment to bear habitat conservation," said Darling, "particularly since the length of the bear hunting season was reduced in 1990 in order to increase the bear population. We will again, however, be examining the length of the bear hunting season to make sure the bear population is being managed consistent with Vermont's Bear Management Plan, which proposes to slightly increase the bear population over time."

"We must continue to closely monitor our bears, because the species has a low reproductive rate, making it more vulnerable to declines than many other types of wildlife."

In an effort to improve knowledge on the habitat needs of Vermont's bear population, Vermont wildlife biologists are collecting tissue samples of bear taken by hunters. DNA from the samples will be analyzed to gain a better understanding of the genetic makeup of the bear population.

Vermont's bear hunting season ran from September 1 through November 14 this year. The season total of 489 bears is likely to change slightly as more reports are mailed in from around the state.