New York 2007 Bear Harvest Numbers

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Bear harvest numbers increased in 2007 in all three of New York State's bear hunting ranges, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced.

Statewide, hunters took 1,117 black bears, a significant increase over 2006 (796 bears). In the Allegany range, hunters took a record 120 bears, reflecting a slight increase over 2006 (113 bears). In the Catskill range, hunters took 453 bears, a significant increase over 2006 (365) although slightly less than the record (494 in 2005). In the Adirondack range, harvest numbers returned to normal after two consecutive down years. In 2007, 544 bears were taken in the Adirondack range compared to 318 in 2006. Overall, bear harvest statewide has steadily increased over the last two decades in correlation with a continuous rise in the bear population.

"New York has excellent bear habitat and vast, accessible public lands that offer opportunities for hunting," said Commissioner Grannis. "Populations in the Southern Zone have been increasing in number and expanding in distribution over the past decade, a fact once again evidenced by this year's bear take."

As the bear population rises, DEC management actions in the Allegany and Catskill ranges have included changing season dates and opening additional areas for bear hunting. These changes have been intended to limit bear-population growth and migration into new areas. The impact of these changes will likely take several years to become fully evident. However, approximately 70 bears were taken this season in the portions of the Allegany and Catskill ranges that have been opened since 2005.

After two successive years of below average take in the Adirondacks, 2007 marked a return to average. The early season was once again a strong contributor to overall take and included 56 percent of all bears taken in the Adirondacks.

About 20 percent of New York's 550,000 big-game hunters consider themselves bear hunters, but most hunters who take a bear indicate that they were hunting deer at the time. Annual bear harvests are influenced by environmental factors such as food availability and snow fall that affect bear movements and timing of bear denning.

In addition to harvest totals, DEC uses a variety of indices to measure bear populations. Taxidermists and DEC wildlife personnel collect age and sex information from harvested bears and movement data from tagged bears. This information, along with data from bear-human conflicts, is used to help determine whether bear populations are increasing or decreasing, and if bears are expanding their range. The information helps DEC biologists manage bear populations and establish future hunting regulations to assure the management of black bears in New York State is at a level that is compatible with human interests.

In addition to harvest reporting, hunters are asked to submit a tooth sample from their bear for DEC to determine the age of all harvested bears. To encourage participation, DEC issues a NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch to all hunters who reported their harvest and submitted a tooth. More than 600 will be issued for the last hunting season. Eligible hunters should receive their patch in March or April.