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Record Bear Harvest In Southern Zone

Jake Meyers of Busti with his first black bear. Submitted photo

New York State bear hunters took 1,505 black bears during the 2019 hunting seasons, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos this past week announced.

“Black bears are thriving in New York, and bear hunting seasons are a critical part of our state’s necessary population management,” Commissioner Seggos said. “The state’s accessible public lands offer great opportunities for bear hunting and the data DEC’s wildlife managers collect from the harvest continue to help us maintain healthy bear populations.”

The 2019 bear harvest played out differently across the state. Hunters took a record 1,179 bears in the Southern Zone, while hunters in the Northern Zone took only 326 bears, the fewest since 2011. In part, the great success hunters enjoyed in the Southern Zone was a consequence of below average harvest in 2018 due to early snowfall and early denning by bears that year. Hunters were able to capitalize on the availability of more bears in 2019.

Bear harvest in the Northern Zone tends to alternate between strong harvests during the early season if natural foods are lacking and strong harvests during the regular season if natural foods are abundant. In 2019, soft mast (cherries, berries, and apples) and hard mast (acorns and beech nuts) crops were abundant and hunters were most successful during the regular season, taking 213 bears. Only 64 bears were taken during the early season. Additionally, the overall bear harvest in the Northern Zone generally follows a high-low pattern from year to year, and the 2019 harvest fit that pattern as a low year.

Chautauqua County hunters harvested 48 bears, with 11 taken during archery season and 37 taken during the regular season.

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