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LIVINGSTON COUNTY – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released the official numbers for the black bear harvest statewide, which say that five bears were taken in Livingston County as part of a record-breaking bear hunting season for the Southern Zone of New York State.
According to a press release from the DEC, New York bear hunters took 1,628 black bears during the 2014 hunting seasons, well above the historical average of 722 and setting a record harvest for the Southern Zone, including 628 in the special early season, 331 in the bow season, 58 in the muzzleloader season, and 611 in the regular season. Bowhunters took 2 bears in Ossian and 1 bear in Springwater, and regular season hunters took 2 more bears in Springwater.
“With bear hunting areas expanded throughout upstate New York and a special early bear season in portions of the Catskills and western Hudson Valley, hunters had unprecedented opportunity to pursue black bears this year,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “These were intentional management actions designed to limit bear population growth broadly and reduce the population in southeastern New York. We are pleased that hunters took advantage of these opportunities.”
Hunters took a total of 1,110 bears in the Southern Zone, an increase of approximately 13 percent from 2013 and surpassing the previous harvest record of 983 bears taken in 2011. The record harvest was strongly influenced by the special early bear season, which ran from Sept 6-21 in portions of the Catskills and western Hudson Valley, accounting for 337 bears. While some bears taken during the early season might have otherwise been taken during the bow or regular seasons, data suggests that the early season achieved an increased bear harvest consistent with goals to reduce bear populations in the area.
DEC biologists will continue to monitor bear populations and impacts and expect to maintain the special early season until population goals are met.
Also in the Southern Zone, bear hunting was expanded in 2014 into Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) in the greater Syracuse, Albany, and Finger Lakes regions (WMU’s 4A, 4B, 4J, 5R, 6P, 6R, 6S, 7A, 7F, 7H, 7J, 8A, 8C, 8F, 8G, 9A, and 9F) as a measure to prevent bear populations from growing and expanding in these areas. Hunters took a total of 15 bears from these new areas.
In the Northern Zone, hunters took a total of 518 bears, on par with recent averages. Bear harvest in the Northern Zone tends to alternate between strong harvests during the early season one year followed by strong harvests during the regular season the next, based primarily on cycles of food availability. This year, hunters were most successful during the early season, taking 291 bears, about 19 percent above average. In contrast, harvest during the regular season dropped to 159 bears, about 16 percent below average. In 2014, bear hunting was expanded into WMUs 6A, 6G, 6N, and all of 6K, and hunters took 14 bears from these new areas.
The heaviest dressed (gutted) weight, of a 2014 bear reported to DEC was 646 pounds. The bear was reported taken in the Town of Wells, Hamilton County. A 613-pound dressed weight bear was reported taken in the Town of Jewett in Green County and three Ulster County bears dressed between 500-550 pounds. Scaled weights of dressed bears were submitted for 30 percent of the bears taken in 2014.
Eight hunters who took two bears in 2014, taking advantage of the final year when early bear seasons overlapped two license years.
24 bears that were harvested in 2014 had been tagged by wildlife agencies as part of research, nuisance response, relocated urban bears, or released rehabilitated bears, including three bears that were originally tagged in Pennsylvania, two from New Jersey, and one from Massachusetts. The remainder were tagged in New York State.
A complete summary of the 2014 bear harvest with results and maps by county, town, and WMU is available on the DEC website.
The DEC added that hunters play a pivotal role in bear management through reporting their bear harvests, and many hunters also submit a tooth sample from their bear for DEC to determine the age of harvested bears. For all hunters who report their harvest and submit a tooth, meaning 786 hunters in 2014, DEC provides a NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch and a letter informing them of their bear’s age. DEC is still processing tooth submissions from 2014, but the DEC anticipates that hunters will receive their patch by September 2015.
PHOTO CAPTION: A black bear. (Photo/Flickr.com)