New York Bear Harvest Numbers Released
Bear harvest numbers in all three of New York State's bear hunting ranges increased in 2008 - with new records set in the Allegany and Catskill ranges -- Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced.
"Bear populations in the state's two southern ranges have been increasing in number and expanding in distribution over the past decade, and that is reflected in the record setting totals for 2008," Commissioner Grannis said.
Statewide, hunters took 1,295 black bears, a 16 percent increase from the 1,117 bears taken in 2007. In the Allegany bear hunting region of central and western New York, hunters took a record 193 bears, far surpassing the previous regional record, 120, set in 2007. Similarly, hunters took 520 bears in the Catskill bear hunting range in 2008, topping the 2005 regional record harvest of 494 bears.
Harvest increased in the Adirondacks as well, with a total of 582 bears taken in 2008 compared to 544 taken in 2007 and 318 taken in 2006. Hunters reported taking 18 bears in the 13 Wildlife Management Units that were opened for bear hunting this year in central and western New York.
About 20 percent of New York's 570,000 big-game hunters consider themselves bear hunters, but most successful bear hunters indicate that they incidentally took a bear while deer hunting. While overall population size plays the largest role in annual harvest, totals are also strongly influenced by environmental factors such as food availability and snow fall that influence bear movements and the timing of bear denning.
In 2008, hunters in the southern bear ranges benefited by good tracking snow on the hilltops and were able to target bears that continued to feed on standing corn throughout most of the regular season. In the Adirondacks, warm weather and widespread food supply made for difficult hunting conditions during the early bear season. But conditions improved and take increased during the regular bear season.
Hunters play a pivotal role in bear management through reporting their bear harvests. Hunters also 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 680 patches will be distributed for the 2008 hunting season. Eligible hunters will receive their patch in late summer 2009 when all the age data has been processed.
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, as well as 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.
The 2008 bear harvest by county and town with comparisons to previous years' bear harvests are available on the DEC website: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42232.html.