The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released the numbers for the 2022 bear hunting season. According to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, an estimated 1,318 black bears were harvested during the season. While this represents at least 21% of the current black bear population of between 6,000 and 8,000 in the state, Seggos assures that New York’s black bear populations remain robust, particularly in the Catskill and Adirondack regions.
“Regulated bear hunting is a necessary tool for population management, especially with numbers increasing in recent years,” said Seggos. “I’m pleased to see hunters across the state logged another successful and safe bear hunting season.”
The DEC estimates that 458 bears were harvested in the state’s northern hunting zone, while 860 were harvested in the southern zone. Compared to last year, 14% more bears were harvested in the northern zone and 9% fewer in the southern zone, resulting in a total bear harvest that is about 10% below the five-year average.
The majority of the harvested bears were from the Catskills, which contain about 30-35% of the state’s black bear population, spread across about 600,000 acres. The Adirondack Park, on the other hand, contains the greatest number of bears of any region in New York, estimated to be between 50-60% of the statewide total, but its larger territory within the park’s 6 million acres of space means that the bear population is more spread out.
Parts of Greene, Schoharie, Delaware, and Ulster counties make up hunting region WMU 4R, which saw the largest number of bears harvested per 100 square miles. The town of Port Jervis in Orange County had the greatest bear harvest density of any town in the state, at 11.8 per 10 square miles.
Aside from population control, bear hunting season also allows the DEC to gather data on the black bear population. Harvest reports provide information on bear locations, while DEC staff and taxidermists examine the bears. Last year, 612 bears had their teeth collected to determine their age. Hunters who reported their harvests to the DEC will receive a letter and a black bear management coordinator patch.
The DEC tracks bear population by region, judging each area based on whether the current bear population is in need of reduction or should be maintained around its current level. While some parts of central New York require bear population reduction, the Catskills and Adirondacks are judged to have moderate bear populations that should be maintained.
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