Vermont Black Bear Season Now Open

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Vermont's bear hunting season is September 1- November 17 this year.

Vermont's bear population is healthy and estimated at more than 5,500 black bears, according to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. The bear population has increased slowly for the last two decades, and regulated hunting is used to control the population's growth. Under the recently enacted 2010-2020 Big Game Plan the population objective is to maintain bear numbers to between 4,500 to 6,000 animals. Hunters took 629 bears in Vermont's 2009 hunting season.

"Carefully regulated hunting allows for the sustainable utilization of black bears for food and other purposes," said wildlife biologist Forrest Hammond. "Bears also have ecological and aesthetic values for Vermont."

"Vermont's black bears appear to have plenty of food available as we approach fall," Hammond added. "Berry crops are abundant, and we have a good crop of apples and acorns in many areas of the state."

The biggest long-term threat to Vermont's bears continues to be habitat loss. "Each year Vermont loses many acres of critical bear habitat to development," said Hammond. "The ability to keep bears in Vermont over the next 50 years will depend on how much habitat we keep to support bears."

Although wearing fluorescent orange clothing is not mandatory for hunting in Vermont, hunters and others are urged to wear a fluorescent orange vest and hat while in the woods. Anyone hunting deer during archery season, waterfowl or turkeys will normally wear camouflage clothing.

Hammond also asks successful bear hunters to help in determining the age of bears taken by removing the bear's pre-molar tooth and sending it to the Fish and Wildlife Department. Special envelopes are provided to big game check stations for this purpose.