ALBANY March 25, 2008 Bear harvest numbers increased in 2007 in all three of New York State’s bear hunting ranges, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced recently.
Statewide, hunters took 1,117 black bears in 2007, a significant increase over 2006 when 796 bears were taken.
For Sullivan, the numbers were up by one.
Here in Sullivan County, hunters took 38 bears during archery season and 78 in the regular season for a total of 116.
There were 115 bears taken in Sullivan County in 2006.
In the Allegany range, this year’s group of hunters took a record 120 bears, reflecting a slight increase over 2006 (113 bears). In the Catskill range, hunters took 453 bears, which was a significant increase over 2006 (365) but slightly less than the record of 494 bears in 2005. In the Adirondack range, harvest numbers returned to normal after two consecutive down years. In 2007, 544 bears were taken in the Adirondack range compared to 318 in 2006.
Overall, bear harvest statewide has steadily increased over the last two decades in correlation with a continuous rise in the bear population.
“New York has excellent bear habitat and vast, accessible public lands that offer opportunities for hunting,” Grannis said. “Populations in the Southern Zone have been increasing in number and expanding in distribution over the past decade, a fact once again evidenced by this year’s bear take.”
As the bear population rises, DEC management actions in the Allegany and Catskill ranges have included changing season dates and opening additional areas for bear hunting. These changes have been intended to limit bear population growth and migration into new areas. The impact of these changes will likely take several years to become fully evident.
Approximately 70 bears were taken this season in the portions of the Allegany and Catskill ranges that have been open since 2005.
After two successive years of below average take in the Adirondacks, 2007 marked a return to average. The early season was once again a strong contributor to overall take and included 56 percent of all bears taken in the Adirondacks. About 20 percent of New York’s 550,000 big-game hunters consider themselves bear hunters, but most hunters who take a bear indicate that they were hunting deer at the time. Annual harvests are influenced by environmental factors such as food availability and snowfall that affect bear movements and timing of denning.
In addition to totals, the DEC uses a variety of indices to measure bear populations. Taxidermists and DEC personnel collect age and sex information from harvested bears and 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.
In addition to harvest reporting, hunters are asked to submit a tooth sample from their bear for the DEC to determine the age of all harvested bears.
To encourage participation, the DEC issues a NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch to all hunters who reported their harvest and submitted a tooth. More than 600 will be issued for the last hunting season.