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For Release: Wednesday, March 7, 2018

DEC Announces 2017 Bear Harvest Results

New York State bear hunters took 1,420 black bears during the 2017 hunting seasons, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today.

"New York has excellent bear habitat and vast, accessible public lands that offer exciting opportunities for bear hunting," said DEC Commissioner Seggos. "With abundant natural food sources this past year, bears were in great condition, and several hunters took bears weighing in excess of 500 pounds."

Hunters took an estimated 1,037 black bears in New York's Southern Zone, nearly the same number as in 2016, but slightly more than the recent five-year average. Bowhunters took 330 bears, on par with the recent average, but less than the 537 bears taken during the regular season. The early season, which DEC initiated in 2014 to reduce bear populations in a handful of management units in the Catskill region, resulted in 150 bears.

In the Northern Zone, hunters took an estimated 383 bears, about 25 percent fewer than 2016 and below the historical average. Bear take 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 year, based primarily on cycles of food availability. This year, the early season accounted for 82 bears, similar to the early seasons of 2011 and 2013. However, hunters fared much better during the regular season, taking 242 bears.

For the second year, junior hunters were allowed to take black bears during the Youth Firearms Big Game Hunt over Columbus Day weekend. That hunt overlapped with the early bear season in most of the Northern Zone, but one junior hunter in the Northern Zone and eight in the Southern Zone took advantage of the opportunity to harvest a bear.

Black Bear Harvest & Recent Trend Comparison
2017 Total 2016 Total Recent
5-year Average (2012-2016)
Historical Average
Northern Zone 383 514 520 515
Southern Zone 1,037 1,025 995 207
Statewide 1,420 1,539 1,515 722

Notable Numbers

  • 1 bear per 4.2 square miles - by DEC Wildlife Management Unit (WMU), the greatest bear harvest density occurred in WMU 3C, which is predominantly in Ulster County but includes slivers of Sullivan and Greene counties. However, the town of Olive in Ulster County (WMUs 3A and 3C) yielded one bear for every 2.4 square miles.
  • 163 - the greatest number of bears reported taken on any one day, Nov. 18, the opening day of the regular firearms season in the Southern Zone.
  • 550 pounds - the heaviest dressed weight bear reported to DEC in 2017, taken in the town of Lexington, Greene County. A 520-pound dressed weight bear was reported taken in Wayland in Steuben County, and seven bears were reported with dressed weights between 400-500 pounds. Scaled weights of dressed bears were submitted for 23 percent of bears taken in 2017.
  • 15 - the number of tagged bears reported in the 2017 harvest. These included three bears originally tagged in Pennsylvania and one from New Jersey. The remainder were originally tagged in New York for a variety of reasons, including research, nuisance response, relocated urban bears, or released rehabilitated bears.
  • 872 - the number of hunter-killed bears from which DEC collected teeth for age analysis in 2017. Hunters who reported their harvest and submitted a tooth for age analysis will receive a 2017 Black Bear Management Cooperator Patch. Results of the age analysis should be available by September 2018.
  • 11 percent - the proportion of bears taken by non-resident hunters. Successful non-resident bear hunters hailed from 13 states, the farthest being Florida, Louisiana, and California.

2017 Bear Take Summary Report
A complete summary of the 2017 bear harvest with results and maps by county, town, and WMU is available on DEC's website.

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