New York Opens New Black Bear Hunting Areas
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced that the state has adopted regulations that open new areas to black bear hunting this fall. The new regulations expand bear hunting to 13 additional Wildlife Management Units (WMUs), which include parts of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Erie, Wyoming, Genesee, Monroe, Livingston, Wayne, Ontario, Seneca, Yates, Steuben, Schuyler, Tompkins, Tioga, Cortland, Broome, Chenango, Madison, Onondaga, Oneida, and Otsego counties.
The regulations are in effect immediately and will allow hunters to pursue bears in these areas during the bowhunting, regular, and muzzleloading bear hunting seasons in the Southern Zone. An updated map of New York's bear hunting seasons is available at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28602.html . A map and boundary descriptions of DEC's Wildlife Management Unit locations can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8302.html.
"In recent years, the bear population in central and western New York has grown in number and expanded in distribution," Commissioner Grannis said. "Hunting is an important component of a comprehensive bear-management program that also emphasizes safety and education efforts and responses to individual problem bears. Expanding the bear hunting area is a continuation of efforts to manage bear population growth and range expansion."
Black bears have been thriving in New York, with a current population of approximately 6,000-7,000 - a number that has grown significantly over the last decade. This conservative estimate includes about 4,000-5,000 bears in the Northern Bear Range, about 2,000 bears in the Southern Bear Range, plus several hundred bears outside the primary ranges. In recent years, bears have expanded their range considerably, which has led to a growing number of interactions between bears and people.
The specific changes for the Southern Bear Range include:
Open WMUs 7M, 7R, 7S, 8H, 8J, 8M, 8N, 8P, 8R, 8S, 9G and 9H to black bear hunting for the bowhunting, regular and muzzleloading seasons. This would include parts of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Erie, Wyoming, Genesee, Monroe, Livingston, Wayne, Ontario, Seneca, Yates, Steuben, Schuyler, Tompkins, Tioga, Cortland, Broome, Chenango, Madison, Onondaga, and Oneida counties. Season dates for these units will be the same as those in place for adjacent units already open to bear hunting in the Allegany bear hunting area, with bowhunting season starting on Oct. 18, 2008, and regular bear season beginning Nov. 22, 2008.
Open WMU 4N to black bear hunting for the bowhunting, regular and muzzleloading seasons. This includes parts of Chenango and Otsego counties. The season dates for this unit will be the same as adjacent areas to the east in the Catskill bear hunting area with bowhunting season starting on Oct. 18, 2008, and regular bear season beginning Nov. 15, 2008.
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 and may do so by calling 1-866-GAMERPT (1-866-426-3778) or through DEC's new online reporting system.
While bear hunting is the most viable and cost-effective tool for managing bear populations, opening new areas to hunting will not eliminate bears or prevent all human/bear interactions. For this reason, DEC remains committed to continuing educational outreach to increase the public's awareness and inform the public on techniques to avoid conflicts with bears. The recently-produced "Living with New York Black Bears" DVD is available to the public for loan at local libraries and DEC wildlife offices, and is currently being distributed to school libraries throughout the state. A wealth of information about bears can also be found on DEC's website.