Black Bear Hunters Enjoy Successful Season

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New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty today announced that hunters harvested 912 black bears during the State's 2002 big game hunting seasons. This figure is well above the 10-year average take of 726 bears, indicating that bear populations are doing well and that hunting opportunities in New York continue to thrive.

"Opportunities to hunt for black bear in New York State are among the best in the northeast, and I commend our sportsmen and women for participating in another successful season," Commissioner Crotty said. "Abundant food sources prevailed over early heavy snowfalls this past fall, providing excellent conditions for the black bear hunting season. Our diverse and healthy ecosystems enable New York hunters to enjoy productive seasons year after year."

Black bear occupy three distinct geographics areas or ranges in New York State: the Adirondack, Catskill and Allegany ranges. Although bear populations, hunter densities and harvest vary significantly across these ranges, during the 2002 season all three areas achieved harvests that were well above average.

During the 2002 season, hunters in the Adirondack range took 550 bears, more than the long-term average and last year's take of 523. The Catskill harvest of 278 bears is well above the previous 10-year average of 179 and last year's harvest of 208. The harvest of 84 bears in the Allegany range is the largest number ever harvested in that area, exceeding the previous record take of 70, which was established last year.

In addition to the opportunity of harvesting a bear, hunters provide a unique role in managing New York's black bear resources. While helping to regulate population levels, hunters provide wildlife biologists with valuable information that is used to assess the condition and health of bear populations. Taxidermists and DEC wildlife personnel collect age and sex information from harvested bears and movement data from tagged bears. These data indicate that New York's bear populations are relatively stable and vigorous and may indicate that bears are gradually expanding their range. This information, when used in conjunction with vehicle accident data, incident reports and public opinion surveys, allows DEC to manage bear populations and provides future generations with the benefits derived from well managed bear populations.