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For Release: Thursday, February 13, 2020

DEC Announces 2019 Bear Harvest Totals

Record Harvest in Southern Zone, Lower than Average Harvest in Northern Zone

New York State bear hunters took 1,505 black bears during the 2019 hunting seasons, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today.

"Black bears are thriving in New York, and bear hunting seasons are a critical part of our state's necessary population management," Commissioner Seggos said. "The state's accessible public lands offer great opportunities for bear hunting and the data DEC's wildlife managers collect from the harvest continue to help us maintain healthy bear populations."

The 2019 bear harvest played out differently across the state. Hunters took a record 1,179 bears in the Southern Zone, while hunters in the Northern Zone took only 326 bears, the fewest since 2011. In part, the great success hunters enjoyed in the Southern Zone was a consequence of below average harvest in 2018 due to early snowfall and early denning by bears that year. Hunters were able to capitalize on the availability of more bears in 2019.

Bear harvest in the Northern Zone tends to alternate between strong harvests during the early season if natural foods are lacking and strong harvests during the regular season if natural foods are abundant. In 2019, soft mast (cherries, berries, and apples) and hard mast (acorns and beech nuts) crops were abundant and hunters were most successful during the regular season, taking 213 bears. Only 64 bears were taken during the early season. Additionally, the overall bear harvest in the Northern Zone generally follows a high-low pattern from year to year, and the 2019 harvest fit that pattern as a low year.

Bear Harvest Totals
2019 Total 2018 Total Recent 5-Year Average (2014-2018)
Northern Zone 326 491 498
Southern Zone 1,179 804 1,022
Statewide 1,505 1,295 1,519

Notable Numbers

  • 2.9: the number of bears harvested per 10 square miles in Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 3K, which includes southern Sullivan County and a portion of Orange County. WMU 3K had the greatest bear harvest density of any unit, but the town of Tusten in Sullivan County yielded 4.0 bears for every 10 square miles.
  • 157: the greatest number of bears reported taken on any one day. It happened on November 16 - the opening day of the regular firearms season in the Southern Zone.
  • 643 pounds: the heaviest dressed-weight bear reported to DEC in 2019, taken in the town of Thompson, Sullivan County. Scaled weights of dressed bears were submitted for 30 percent of bears taken in 2019.
  • 17: the number of tagged bears reported in the 2019 harvest. These included six bears originally tagged in Pennsylvania, one from Massachusetts, 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.
  • 855: the number of hunter-killed bears from which DEC collected teeth for age analysis in 2019. Hunters who reported their harvest and submitted a tooth for age analysis will receive a 2019 Black Bear Management Cooperator Patch. Results of the age analysis is expected to be available by September 2020.
  • 13 percent: the proportion of bears taken by non-resident hunters. Successful non-resident bear hunters hailed from 19 states.

DEC's harvest estimates rely on successful hunters reporting their harvest. For more information on game harvest reporting, visit DEC's website.

2019 Bear Take Summary Report

A complete summary of the 2019 bear harvest with results and maps by county, town, and WMU is available on DEC's website.

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