The state this week released its bear hunting statistics for last fall, and the numbers show a sharp drop in the number of black bears taken by hunters in the Adirondacks last fall.
The bear take dropped by a third last year in the Northern Zone, with 387 bears shot last fall, compared to 514 in 2016.
The Southern Zone's totals were slightly up last year. The Southern Zone includes the Catskills, Allegany Range and even parts of southern Washington and Rensselaer counties that are home to growing bear populations.
The numbers don't seem to be reason to panic, as a number of factors other than population numbers play a part in hunting success. it was a big summer and fall for natural food in the woods like berries and mast, so bears don't have to go very far to find food. That makes them tougher for hunters to find.
Hunters took 30 bears in Warren County, 26 of them coming from Stony Creek, Thurman and Johnsburg, 15 in Saratoga County and 5 in Washington County. Hamilton County had 45 successful bear hunters, and Essex County 31.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation's "notable numbers" from the season include:
- 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 (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/45598.html). 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.
For a copy of the state's full bear season report, click here.
-- Don Lehman