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For Release: Monday, April 13, 2015

DEC Announces 2014 Bear Take Results

New Hunting Opportunities Yield Record High Take in the Southern Zone

New York bear hunters took 1,628 black bears during the 2014 hunting seasons, setting a record harvest for the Southern Zone, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.

"With bear hunting areas expanded throughout upstate New York and a special early bear season in portions of the Catskills and western Hudson Valley, hunters had unprecedented opportunity to pursue black bears this year," said Commissioner Martens. "These were intentional management actions designed to limit bear population growth broadly and reduce the population in southeastern New York. We are pleased that hunters took advantage of the opportunities."

2014 Black Bear Harvest Comparison
2014
Total
2013
Total
Recent 5-year
Average
(2009-2013)
Historical
Average
(1991-2000)
Northern Zone 518 380 519 515
Southern Zone 1,110 978 782 207
Statewide 1,628 1,358 1,301 722

Hunters took a total of 1,110 bears in the Southern Zone, an increase of approximately 13 percent from 2013 and surpassing the previous harvest record of 983 bears taken in 2011. The record harvest was strongly influenced by the special early bear season, which ran from Sept 6-21 in portions of the Catskills and western Hudson Valley, accounting for 337 bears. While some bears taken during the early season might have otherwise been taken during the bow or regular seasons, data suggests that the early season achieved an increased bear harvest consistent with goals to reduce bear populations in the area. DEC biologists will continue to monitor bear populations and impacts and expect to maintain the special early season until population goals are met.

Also in the Southern Zone, bear hunting was expanded in 2014 into Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 4A, 4B, 4J, 5R, 6P, 6R, 6S, 7A, 7F, 7H, 7J, 8A, 8C, 8F, 8G, 9A, and 9F as a measure to prevent bear populations from growing and expanding in these areas. Hunters took a total of 15 bears from these new areas.

In the Northern Zone, hunters took a total of 518 bears, on par with recent averages. Bear harvest in the Northern Zone tends to alternate between strong harvests during the early season one year followed by strong harvests during the regular season the next, based primarily on cycles of food availability. This year, hunters were most successful during the early season, taking 291 bears, about 19 percent above average. In contrast, harvest during the regular season dropped to 159 bears, about 16 percent below average. In 2014, bear hunting was expanded into WMUs 6A, 6G, 6N, and all of 6K, and hunters took 14 bears from these new areas.

Notable Numbers

One bear per 3.1 square miles --- the bear harvest density in WMUs 3C and 3K (mostly portions of Sullivan and Ulster counties). Statewide, hunters took about 1 bear per 29 square miles of land.

  • 646 pounds --- the heaviest dressed weight bear reported to DEC. The bear was reported taken in the Town of Wells, Hamilton County. A 613-pound dressed weight bear was reported taken in the Town of Jewett in Green County and three Ulster County bears dressed between 500-550 pounds. Scaled weights of dressed bears were submitted for 30 percent of the bears taken in 2014.
  • Eight --- the number of hunters who took two bears in 2014, taking advantage of the final year when early bear seasons overlapped two license years.
  • 24 --- the number of tagged bears by wildlife agencies reported in the 2014 harvest. These included three bears that were originally tagged in Pennsylvania, two from New Jersey, and one from Massachusetts. The remainder were tagged in New York for a variety of reasons including research, nuisance response, relocated urban bears, or released rehabilitated bears.

2014 Bear Take Summary Report
A complete summary of the 2014 bear harvest with results and maps by county, town, and WMU is available on the DEC website.

NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch Program
Hunters play a pivotal role in bear management through reporting their bear harvests, and many hunters also submit a tooth sample from their bear for DEC to determine the age of harvested bears (information on tooth sample available on DEC's website). For all hunters who report their harvest and submit a tooth, 786 hunters in 2014, DEC provides a NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch and a letter informing them of their bear's age. DEC is still processing tooth submissions from 2014, but we anticipate hunters will receive their patch by September 2015.

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