Black Bear Management
Once limited to small, isolated populations in only the most inaccessible mountain regions of the state, conservative bear management has allowed black bear populations to increase dramatically in number and distribution in recent decades. However, as bear populations increase and more people choose to live and recreate in areas occupied by bears, human-bear conflicts also increase. Thus, managing bear populations is critically important and managers are challenged to balance diverse public interests in bears with concern for public safety.
Black Bear Management Plan
DEC's Management Plan for Black Bear in New York State, 2014-2024 (PDF) (1.5 MB) outlines the components of the black bear management program and describes strategies to achieve and maintain bear population levels that are acceptable to the public while also working with the public to reduce human-bear conflicts and providing sustainable opportunity for New York's big game hunters.
In addition to describing the current and desired future status of bear populations in various geographic regions of New York, the plan describes five primary goals identified by DEC staff that encompass the current priorities of bear managers and values and issues expressed by the public:
- Maintain bear populations at levels acceptable to the public;
- Promote and enhance bear hunting as an important management tool;
- Minimize the frequency and severity of human-bear conflicts;
- Foster understanding and communication about bear ecology, management, and conflict avoidance; and
- Ensure that the necessary resources are available to support effective management of black bears in New York.
A draft of this bear management plan was released for public comment from January 16 to February 21, 2014. DEC received comments from several thousand individuals and organizations. Subsequently, DEC reviewed all of the comments and made several changes to the final version of this plan. See Public Comments on the draft NYS Black Bear Management Plan, 2012-2016 (PDF) (241 KB) to review the comments submitted and DEC's response.
Black Bear Management Resources
- Black Bears in New York: Natural History, Range, And Interactions With People (PDF, 555 KB) - summarizes the biological characteristics, behavioral traits, current distribution and other interesting attributes of NY's black bears.
- A Framework For Black Bear Management in New York (PDF, 684 KB) - describes the basic structure used to gather information and identify program management needs. The heart of this planning framework involved use of Stakeholder Input Groups (SIGs) to identify public perceptions of positive and negative bear-related impacts and to provide recommendations for management. The priority management outcomes sought by former SIGs generally included: (1) that a viable population of bears be maintained; (2) that public education about bears be continued and expanded; and (3) that negative impacts (e.g., agricultural damage) be reduced.
- 2002 New York State Black Bear Management Survey (PDF, 284 KB) - highlights findings from a mail survey to define and understand the range of bear-related impacts that New Yorkers experience.
- New York State Black Bear Response Manual (PDF, 985 KB)- outlines standard operating procedures for handling over 50 situations involving black bears and human-black bear interactions.
An Evaluation of Black Bear Management Options (PDF, 1.2 MB) - a publication of the Northeast Black Bear Technical Committee; describes various management strategies for black bear.
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.