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For Release: Friday, September 5, 2014

DEC Announces Early Bear Hunting Seasons to Begin

Bear Hunting Seasons Begin September 6 in Portions of Southeastern New York and September 13 in Northern New York

Under Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today announced that the new 2014 early bear hunting seasons open at sunrise on Saturday, September 6, in portions of New York's southern zone and Saturday, September 13, in the northern zone.

"Early black bear hunting seasons are an important tool for managers to control bear populations, and beginning Saturday, hunters will have a new opportunity to pursue bears in portions of the Catskills and western Hudson Valley," said Commissioner Martens. "Opening these early seasons demonstrates Governor Cuomo's commitment to increasing hunting opportunities here in New York State for sportsmen and women."

Following recommendations in DEC's recently adopted bear management plan to reduce bear populations in the region, the new early firearms bear season runs from September 6-21 in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 3A, 3C, 3H, 3J, 3K, 3M, 3P, 3R, 4P, and 4R. The early bowhunting season for bears will then open in all of the Southern Zone on October 1, followed by the regular firearms season beginning November 15.

New this year, DEC has also expanded bear hunting in northern New York to include WMUs 6A, 6G, 6K and 6N. In these newly opened units, bear hunting begins with bowhunting equipment only from September 13 through October 17. In the rest of northern New York (WMUs 5A, 5C, 5F, 5G, 5H, 5J, 6C, 6F, 6H, and 6J), the early firearms season begins Saturday, September 13 and continues until October 17. Muzzleloader season then opens in all northern WMUs on October 18, followed by the regular firearms season for bear on October 25.

During these early seasons, or whenever hunting in warm conditions, bear hunters should be prepared to skin and cool harvested bears as soon as possible to protect the quality of the meat. Hunters may consider skinning and quartering the bear in the field and packing out the meat in game bags.

As part of the NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, New York streamlined the hunting and fishing license structure, made it consistent for resident and non-residents, and reduced license fees. Some hunters and anglers may not be familiar with these license changes, but licensing-issuing agents are prepared to provide assistance and ensure the license buyers secure all the desired permits and privileges. Highlights of the sporting licenses changes are available on DEC's website.

In addition, the new Hunting & Trapping regulation guides are available at all license issuing outlets, as well as on DEC's website.

In support of the NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, this year's budget includes $6 million in NY Works funding to support creating 50 new land and water access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have not reached their full potential. These 50 new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds and building new trails and parking areas. In addition, the 2014-15 budget includes $4 million to repair the state's fish hatcheries; and renews and allows expanded use of crossbows for hunting in New York State.

DEC regulates black bear hunting to manage populations toward levels that are acceptable to the public. Information about black bear hunting in New York, including season dates and regulations, is available on DEC's website. Additionally, DEC's booklet Hunting the Black Bear in New York (PDF) (937 KB), includes tips on bear hunting and proper care of harvested bears.

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