Black Bear Management
As bear populations have increased during the last few decades, the need to address where bears occur and the effects that humans experience from the bear resource has received increasing levels of attention by wildlife managers. In addition to defining "where" bears occur and "how many" bears there are, there is a growing need to help people better understand, appreciate and coexist with bears.
Black bear populations are not evenly distributed throughout the landscape of New York State. Land use patterns and habitats are continually changing, and some areas are becoming more forested, while others are experiencing increased urbanization. Sharing many of these same locales with bears is a diverse human population, with varying views and opinions regarding bears and their presence. It is apparent that DEC biologists face great challenges when they attempt to manage the black bear resource for New Yorkers. What may represent a desirable density of bears in one area, may be too few or too many bears for other locations.
Since the spring of 2000, Department of Environmental Conservation staff and Human Dimension Specialists from Cornell University have developed a comprehensive management plan for NY's bear resource. Members of this Black Bear Management Team all have extensive experience working with bears and bear issues, and have an understanding of the relationships that exist between bears and humans. The Black Bear Management Team synthesized information about the ecological and social aspects of the management system, as well as information about the practice of managing publicly held natural resources.
The biological characteristics, behavioral traits, current distribution and other interesting attributes of NY's black bears have been summarized and can be found in Black Bears in New York: Natural History, Range, And Interactions With People (PDF, 555 Kb). This document was created to serve as an informational resource for individuals who have specific interests in black bears in NYS, or for those who simply may want to know about bears in general.
The Black Bear Management Team then developed a framework for making decisions about the bear management program. From their long history of working with black bears in NY, DEC biologists initially identified a wide range of impacts that exist today as a result of current bear numbers and management practices. A statewide mail survey of residents throughout NY was conducted by the Human Dimensions Research Unit of Cornell University in 2002 to better define and more fully understand the importance of these impacts. A study overview and highlight of survey findings can be viewed at 2002 New York State Black Bear Management Survey (PDF, 284 Kb).
In the fall of 2003, the Black Bear Management Team began using a citizen input process to refine and prioritize the impacts on smaller geographic scales. This citizen participation process uses Stakeholder Input Groups (SIGs) and is explained in another document entitled A Framework For Black Bear Management in New York (PDF, 684 Kb). While this framework is intended to help guide the agency in the management of the bear resource, it also provides the public the opportunity to interact with the DEC to examine and resolve existing and emerging bear issues.
More about Black Bear Management:
- Stakeholder Input Groups - Describes the process and history of using stakeholders to identify positive and negative impacts associated with black bears.