New York Has 3rd Highest Bear Harvest On Record In 2012
New York saw its third highest bear harvest on record during the 2012 hunting seasons.
According to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, hunters took 1,337 black bears last year.
Only the 2003 harvest (1,864) and 2009 harvest (1,487) surpassed last year's take.
"New York has excellent bear habitat and vast, accessible public lands that offer exciting opportunities for bear hunting," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens in a news release. "Black bears are thriving in New York, and they represent a great resource for all New Yorkers."
Regionally, bear harvest increased in the Adirondacks but decreased in the Southeastern and Central-Western bear hunting areas.
Though overall population size plays a large role in harvest totals, annual variations in take are also strongly influenced by environmental factors such as natural food availability and snow fall that affect bear activity and hunting pressure.
In the Adirondacks, hunters took 606 bears in 2012, returning to a more normal harvest level after an exceptionally low harvest in 2011.
This past season, hunters found greatest success during the early season (386 bears; mid-September until mid-October) compared to the regular season (132 bears; late October to early December).
This pattern was expected after a summer of low natural food availability.
The early season harvest is always high in such years because bears are moving more in search of food and many are closer to human food sources, which in both cases makes them more vulnerable to harvest.
In fact, towns along the western and southern fringe of the Adirondacks saw some of the highest harvests as bears were found feeding in corn fields during the early season.
Bears also tend to den early when natural foods are scarce, so fewer bears were available to hunters during the regular season.
In the Southeastern bear hunting area, bear take dropped from the record 630 taken in 2011 to 442 taken in 2012.
Similarly, take in the Central-Western bear hunting area dropped from the record 353 in 2011 to 289 in 2012.
In both areas, take during bow season contributed substantially to the overall take (51 percent Southeastern, 37 percent Central-Western) and increased from 2011, reflecting the longer bow season initiated in 2012 and greater availability of bears during this period.
Notably, take during the regular season dropped in both areas.
The drop was most pronounced in Southeastern New York where biologists anticipated a potential reduced harvest due to early denning behavior associated with the general lack of soft and hard mast (apples, acorns and beechnuts).
Saturday, March 8, 2014, Watertown, NY
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