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NY bear harvest returns to 2005-7 levels

From the New York Department of Environmental Conservation

-- Statewide, New York hunters took 1,064 black bears this past fall, similar to harvest levels from 2005 to 2007.  

While overall population size plays a large role in harvest totals, annual variations are also strongly influenced by environmental factors that affect bear activity and hunting pressure, such as natural food availability and snowfall.

In the Southeastern bear hunting area, hunters took 401 bears, with roughly half of the harvest occurring during bowhunting season and half during regular firearms hunting season.  In the Central Western bear hunting area, hunters took 142 bears, with bowhunters responsible for about 65 percent  of the harvest.  Harvest in both areas was down approximately 20 percent from 2009.

In the Adirondack bear hunting area, hunters took 521 bears, down approximately 35 percent from 2009 but consistent with the long-term average. Bear harvest in the Adirondacks seems heavily influenced by variations in key food resources. This year's harvest follows those trends.  In years when soft mast such as apple, cherry and raspberry is abundant, bear harvest during the early season tends to decrease.  

Cherry and raspberry were widely available in September and October, and the bear take during the 2010 early season dropped approximately 40 percent from 2009, which was a year with a poor soft mast crop and high early season bear harvest.  Conversely, in years when beechnuts are abundant, bear harvest numbers tend to increase during regular season. This past fall was lacking for beechnut production, and bear take during the regular season dropped about 25 percent from 2009.

A pivotal role in bear management is reporting bear harvests. Hunters also are asked to submit a tooth sample from their bear for DEC to determine the age of harvested bears. To encourage participation, the department  issues a New York State Black Bear Cooperator Patch to all hunters who reported their harvest and submitted a tooth.

More than 550 patches will be distributed for the 2010 hunting season. Eligible hunters will receive their patch in late summer 2011 when all the age data has been processed.  The average age of bears harvested is typically 3 to 4 years old in the Southeastern and Central Western areas, while bears harvested in the Adirondacks average about 5 years old.

In addition to harvest totals, a variety of indices are used to measure bear populations.

Taxidermists and DEC wildlife personnel collect age and sex information from harvested bears, as well as movement data from tagged bears. This information is used to help biologists manage bear populations and establish future hunting regulations to assure black bears management is at a level compatible with human interests.

A complete summary of the 2010 bear harvest is available online at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42232.html.

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