NEW YORK — New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced that New York state bear hunters took 1,337 black bears, during 2012, making last year the third-highest bear harvest on record, in New York. The 2003 harvest brought in 1,864 bears and 2009 hunters took 1,487.
“New York has excellent bear habitat and vast, accessible public lands, that offer exciting opportunities for bear hunting,” Martens said. “Black bears are thriving in New York and they represent a great resource for all New Yorkers. Through the NY’s Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative, Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo is improving opportunities for hunting in New York state.”
Bear harvests increased in the Adirondacks, but decreased, in the Southeastern and Central-Western bear hunting areas. According to the DEC, although overall population size plays a role in harvest totals, annual variations in takes are also influenced by environmental factors, such as natural food availability and snowfall, which affects bear activity.
Adirondacks hunters took 606 bears in 2012, after a low harvest in 2011.
This year’s hunters found the most success during the early season, compared to the regular season. According to the DEC, this pattern was expected, following a summer of low natural food availability. The department attributed the early season harvest to bears’ moving, in search of food. Bears den early, when natural foods are scarce, so fewer bears were available to hunters, during the regular season.
Bear takes in the southeastern hunting area dropped from the record 630 taken in 2011 – 442 taken in 2012.
Takes in the central-western bear hunting area dropped from the record 353 in 2011 – 289 in 2012. Bow season takes contributed to the overall take and increased from 2011, reflecting the longer bow season, initiated in 2012, and a greater availability of bears. Regular season takes dropped.
The DEC has expanded the area open to bear hunting in southeastern and central-western New York, since 2005. It has also increased the season length and aligned bear seasons with deer seasons. These actions were implemented to reduce bear population growth and range expansion.
Cuomo initiated Open for Hunting and Fishing in a stated effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities, throughout the state. This initiative includes the streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing, reducing license fees and improving access for fishing, at various sites, across the state. As many as 900,000 pounds of fish have been stocked and fishing clinics are being expanded.
A complete summary of the 2012 bear harvest with breakdown by county, town and wildlife management unit is available at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42232.html.
New York state hunters have been asked to send a tooth sample from their bear to the DEC, so the age of harvested bears may be determined. The DEC has issued a NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch to each participant, as well as a letter documenting the bear’s age.
The DEC is still processing tooth submissions from 2011 and 2012 and estimated that those years’ hunters will receive their patches in late summer.