New York Moves Bear Season Forward
The state has adopted new regulations that change the start of this fall's regular bear season in the Catskill Mountain region to Saturday, Nov. 17 -- the same day as the start of the regular deer season in that area and two days earlier than bear hunting seasons in the past -- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced. The date change is intended to increase bear harvest in the Catskills to limit bear population growth and range expansion.
"The bear population in southeastern New York has grown in recent years, particularly in the southern and central Catskills," Grannis said. "Hunting is an important component of a comprehensive bear management program. The additional harvest anticipated in the Catskill range, in combination with education and preventative measures, is expected to bring the number and magnitude of negative impacts in better balance with human interests."
The expanded hunting season applies to the specific wildlife management units that define the Catskill bear hunting area (These maps are available at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7857.html ). DEC had proposed the change in September; it has now been adopted. This is the second time in three years that DEC has extended the bear hunting season in the Catskills and surrounding areas in an effort to stabilize the population. The change does not affect the start of the regular bear hunting season in New York's two other primary bear hunting areas: Allegany (Nov. 24) and Adirondacks (Oct. 20).
Managing the black bear population in the Catskills has been a longtime focus of DEC. In 2006, hunters took almost 800 bears statewide, including 365 bears from the Catskill range. Since the bowhunting season began Oct. 13, more than 80 bears have been taken in the Catskill bear hunting area.
The commissioner reminded hunters that they must report the taking of a black bear to DEC. "Not only is the reporting of a bear by a hunter required by the Department's regulations, it is a vital component of our black bear management program," Grannis said. Successful bear hunters must report the taking of a black bear within 48 hours and may do so by calling 1-866-GAMERPT (1-866-426-3778). "The Department's wildlife biologists will examine each bear taken by hunters in the Catskills to collect important biological information to help with the on-going bear monitoring program," the commissioner said.
A recent article in the New York State Conservationist (October 2007) underscored the significant expansion of black bear population (now estimated at 6,000 to 7,000) and range in the state over the last 12 years and included information on how people can minimize the chances of a negative encounter with a bear. DEC has received a growing number of reports of bears causing damage to property. Bear-human conflicts often occur when people provide food to bears, either intentionally or accidentally. Bears become conditioned and will return to areas where they previously found food. As noted in the article, "In those suburban areas that are close to bear habitat, the path of least resistance for a bear to food is often a bird feeder, garbage can or an outdoor pet food dish." Keeping garbage contained, cleaning up cooking areas, removing bird feeders during spring and summer, and being careful not to leave food outdoors are important steps that help avoid most problem bear situations. For more information about black bears in New York, and for information on black bear hunting, visit www.dec.ny.gov