New York bear hunters took 1,358 black bears during the 2013 hunting seasons, making last year the second-highest bear harvest on record in New York, the Department of Environmental Conservation announced recently.
“New York has excellent bear habitat and vast, accessible public lands that offer exciting opportunities for bear hunting,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a press release. “With abundant natural foods this past year, bears were in great condition, and we heard of several hunters who took bears weighing more than 500 pounds dressed.”
Regionally, bear hunters took a record 636 bears from the Southeastern bear hunting area and a near record 342 bears (second-highest take) from the Central-Western bear hunting area. These high harvests reflect that bear populations have increased over the past decade, the release said.
In addition, an abundance of hard mast (e.g., acorns and other nuts) kept many bears actively feeding later into the fall and available for harvest through the duration of the regular firearms season. Hunters took 224 bears in the Central-Western area and 431 bears in the Southeastern area during the regular firearms season. Bear populations in these ranges are in need of higher harvest rates in coming years in order to stabilize population growth generally and reduce populations in the Catskill region, according to the release.
In the Adirondack bear hunting area, hunters took a total of 380 bears, fewer than the recent five-year average. However, Adirondack bear harvest is the tale of two seasons.
Bear harvest during the early bear season, which runs from mid-September through mid-October, is strongly influenced by availability of soft mast (e.g., apples, cherries and berries), and harvests tend to be poor during years with abundant soft mast like the 2013 year. Early season only accounted for 84 bears taken, approximately 65 percent below average. In contrast, hunters did well during the regular season, taking 246 bears, about 13 percent greater than average.