Black bear hunt

Lauren McAllister is seen with her St. Lawrence County black bear in September. A 485-pound male black bear and a 400-pound male bear were bagged in 2018. The largest bear, a 585-pound male, was killed in Ulster County. 

The state Department of Environmental Conservation released its bear hunting numbers from 2018, and despite taking more than 1,500 bears, hunters killed fewer than they did in 2017, statewide.

However, in the northern zone of New York state, which covers all of the Adirondacks, hunters took more bears last year than in 2017 — 491 compared to 383 the year before.

In the southern zone, which makes up the rest of the state, hunters took 804 bears last year, down from 2017’s 1,037.

The DEC explained in a press release that due to a lack of forage last year and heavy snows late in the fall, many bears went into their dens earlier than normal. The department said early season and bow hunting numbers were on par with 2017.

A spokeswoman for the department said a review of hunting license sales also shows a downward trend, similar to that seen with deer hunters in recent years.

“Based on hunting license sales, there has been a slow, gradual decline in hunter numbers. But it is not declining at a rate fast enough to affect deer and bear management,” DEC spokeswoman Lori Severino wrote in an email.

In the northern zone, 259 bears were taken during the early hunting season, 55 were killed during bow season, 48 were taken with muzzleloaders, and 129 were killed during the regular hunting season, which ran from Oct. 20 through Dec. 2 last year.

The biggest single day for bear hunting in the state was Nov. 17, opening day of the regular season in the southern zone, when 80 bears were killed.

A 585-pound bear was bagged in Ulster County which was the heaviest reported in 2018. Hunters also bagged a 485-pound male and a 400-pound male, both in St. Lawrence County.

In the 11 counties that are either wholly or partially within the Blue Line, hunters took down a total of 454 bears. St. Lawrence County led the way with 81 bruins killed, followed by Lewis with 63. Hunters in Clinton County took 46 bears, and 45 were taken in each of Herkimer, Essex and Warren counties. Franklin County provided 38 bears, Hamilton had 31, Fulton County had 28, Oneida had 19, and Saratoga County had 13 bears.

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