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DEC announces 2018 bear harvest

Photo contributed
Successful veteran and volunteers with a nice boar taken in Ashland during this year’s September early bear gun season.

March 22, 2019 01:00 pm Updated: March 22, 2019 01:32 pm

DEC recently announced the results of New York’s 2018 bear hunting season. Hunters took a total of 1295 black bears in 2018. This represents a nearly 10 percent decrease overall from 2017 when hunters took a total of 1420 bears. 

In the Southern Zone, hunters killed 804 bears, 20 percent less than last year. DEC cites reduced natural forage and early deep snows in November before the start of the regular firearms deer and bear season as the cause of the decrease. The lack of available food, compounded by deep snow cover, caused bears to enter their dens much earlier during the 2018 season. 

That would account for the relative success of the early gun and archery bear seasons in 2018 where the take was on par with that of 2017, whereas the regular gun season for bears was down by an overall 40 percent in 2018. 

To illustrate the impact locally, in Greene County, more bears were reported killed in the early gun season in September than for the entirety of both the archery and regular gun seasons combined. The early firearms season yielded 17 bears, while the combined kill for the archery and regular November/December gun season resulted in only 14 bears harvested.

The bear take remains consistently relative to available food sources. While that is true for most game species, bears have the ability to take themselves out of the hunt by denning up and removing themselves from the observable landscape. That seems to have been the case this past season since you can’t shoot what you can’t see.

In support of that premise according to the report in the North Country, “…hunters took about 45 percent fewer bears during the Northern Zone regular season in 2018 than in 2017. Bear take during the early season was particularly strong, however, with a nearly three-fold increase over 2017 and a 50-percent increase over the five-year average.

In total, hunters took an estimated 491 bears in the Northern Zone, about 25 percent more than 2017 and within the historical average range.”

For those alarmed by the reduced take in 2018 in both the Northern and Southern Zones being an indicator of declining bear populations, biologists say there is little cause for concern. Given early denning behavior experienced in most prime bear habitat in New York in 2018, the reduction in overall take of just 10 percent seems to be the logical consequence. 

Notable Numbers
DEC cited some “notable numbers” for the 2018 black bear season: One bear harvested per 3.2 square miles. By DEC Wildlife Management Unit (WMU), the greatest bear harvest density occurred in WMU 3C which mainly covers Ulster County and includes portions of Sullivan and Greene counties.

*The town of Kingston in Ulster County (WMU 3C) yielded one bear for every 1.5 square miles.

585 pounds: The heaviest dressed weight bear reported to DEC in 2018, taken in the town of Shandaken, Ulster County. A 550-pound dressed weight bear was reported taken in Marbletown, Ulster County, and six bears were reported with dressed weights between 400-500 pounds. Scaled weights of dressed bears were submitted for 23 percent of bears taken in 2018

Happy Hunting, Fishing and Trapping until next time.

News and Notes

DU Banquet Being Held Tonight

The Greene County Chapter of Ducks Unlimited is holding their Annual Dinner and Banquet tonight at Anthony’s Banquet Hall in Leeds. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. You can buy your ticket at the door. For more information, call Jeff Holliday at (518) 943-1986, Dana Hanusik at (518) 943-2729, or Arliss Reed at (315) 576-5116.

Ham Shoots Coming in April

Kalicoontie Rod & Gun Club

They are hosting a ham shoot on April 7th at 10:00 am at 333 Schneider Road in Livingston. Shoot to win hams, pork loins, turkeys and table prizes. 12 and 20-gauge shotgun shells will be available but be sure to bring your own slugs. Call Scoot at 845-757-2552 or Joe at 518-537-3997 for more information.

Craryville Rod & Gun Club 

They are hosting their ham shoot the same date and time, April 7 at 10 a.m. The Craryville shoot offers a student discount and is additionally hosting money shoots.

Field & Stream Outdoor Education Series

Fishing 101 – April 2 from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Learn the basics of freshwater fishing with some tips on using both old favorite methods as well as the latest lures, baits and techniques.

Fishing Trout in Streams - April 9 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Perfect your skills at “reading” streams and discuss proven techniques to catch trout in streams and rivers.

Striped Bass Fishing Seminar with Capt. Leach - Saturday April 6, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Capt. Chris Leach of Harvest Sun Charters will examine techniques used to catch striped bass in the Hudson River. Topics to include all aspects of targeting and catching trophy river striped bass.

All classes will be held at the store at 579 Troy Schenectady Road in Latham. 

Registration is recommended by calling 518-785-3270, but you are welcome to show up on the scheduled date and time. There is no cost to attend these classes.

Remember to report poaching violations by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS.  

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